T Nation

ZMA: FACT OR FICTION?

I’m curious what others think about this research abstract on the benefits of ZMA. As far as I can tell, this is the only published research that supports the effectiveness of ZMA in trained athletes (i.e. football players). The abstract can be found at: http://www.snac.com/zma2.html
The abstract mentions that: “Subjects (ZMA n=10; placebo n=11) were measured for maximum quadricep strength on the right leg at 180 degrees per sec (strength) and 300 degrees per second (functional power). The ZMA strength group change at 180 degrees per second was 11.6% (189.9 to 211.8) compared to the placebo group change of +44.6% (204.2 to 209.1) and the ZMA group change at 300 degrees per sec. was +18.2% (316.5 to 373.7), in contrast to the +9.4% (369.5 to 404.3) for the placebo group (P<0.05). These findings suggest that nightly supplementation with ZMA significantly increases Zn and Mg levels, anabolic hormone levels as well as strength and power in athletes. "


Despite this, I still have some doubts about the true effectiveness of ZMA when administered to athletes who do not have Zinc or Magnesium deficiencies. The study does not make note of whether those being administered ZMA were deficient, but clearly from looking at the abstract, we see that the placebo group had much higher strength and power output prior to beginning the supplementation. The abstract also mentions that the placebo groups strength change was, " +44.6% (204.2 to 209.1)”, but I have no idea how +44.6% was derived. Any thoughts on this study or other studies on ZMA, as well as real world experience with the product…

Concerning real world experience, I didn’t notice any great increase in my strength or power output, but it worked wonders as far as giving me deep, relaxing sleep at night. That was real noticeable. I did only take it for a couple of months – I don’t know, maybe that wasn’t long enough.

I am not an expert, but I think someone without a Zn and Mg deficiency would not get any benefit, or at least not as much of a benefit. However, most people, athletes especially, are said to be deficient.

The one thing I can say for sure it did for me was help my sleep. After a couple weeks of taking it I started getting very deep sleeps, and fell asleep much quicker (plus some crazy dreams). As for other benefits, I really can't say.

The logic is pretty clear. A lack in these minerals can impair hormone levels (like T). Most athletes and active individuals (dieters too I’d guess) are deficient. Therefore ZMA is good. Make you blow up like MAG-10 or steroids? Well, no. But a good supp that ensures you’re functioning optimally. If you haven’t, read the interview with Victor Conte at T-mag. A search on his name at the main site will bring it up.

I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing here. Zinc and Magnesium are some of the most important minerals in the body, and hence a slight deficiency of them can result in subpar metabolic function (for lack of better terminology). Why don’t you try pulling some studies on zinc and magnesium deficiency in the general population, as I recall its pretty high.

It has been noted that Zinc and Magnesium deficiencies are common among the general population and especially in athletes. However, if I’m eating a ton, and taking two multivitamins and a zinc (by itself) supplement daily, I see no reason why taking ZMA would make an appreciable difference on body composition or athletic performance. I realize that ZMA is supposed to be more bioavailable/absorbable, but it seems to me that it might be an unneccessary expense…maybe my $15/month is better spent on powerdrive or tribex than ZMA?..just my thoughts

well if you’re taking a seperate zinc supplement than your zinc levels should be fine, just make sure its a fairly bioavailable form of zinc (aspartate is pretty common and good from what i read). i would be weary of the multivitamin, i’ve read some interesting discussions that suggested that what are in multivitamins, especially the solid form, aren’t really absorbed at all.