ZMA is an abbreviation of zinc magnesium aspartate. It is a popular supplement among fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders. Three important nutrients (zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6) are combined in this supplement. Each of its ingredients has its own health benefits. ZMA tablets are well-known for their ability to improve sleep quality, muscle growth, and boost the immune system.
In this article, we have talked about important aspects related to ZMA Capsules. It includes health benefits, dosage, side effects, and functions.
ZMA supplement, explained
ZMA supplement contains three main ingredients – zinc monomethionine, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. Many ZMA supplement manufacturers add more minerals or can use other forms of zinc and magnesium. Therefore, check the list of ingredients to find if the supplement has the ingredients you need or not. The ingredients are usually in the following concentration:
- Magnesium aspartate: 450 mg
- Zinc: 30 mg
- Vitamin B6: 10 to 11 mg
The key elements of the ZMA supplement have their own health benefits but this supplement is more popular among fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders and athletes. They use it mostly to boost the production of testosterone, increase sleep quality, recover muscles after exercise, and improve their overall athletic performance. However, the effectiveness of ZMA has not been studied well by science. More research needs to be done to prove its benefits.
What does a ZMA supplement do?
The benefits and effects of ZMA tablets are linked to their three main components: zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Let’s have a look at each nutrient to understand their individual role.
ZMA contains Zinc
Zinc is a trace mineral and it plays several important roles in the body. Your immune system needs it to perform well. Similarly, it is also involved in metabolism and is required by over 300 metabolic enzymes. It is present in all cells and helps with cell division, carbohydrate breakdown for energy production, and wound healing. It is present in a variety of foods including lean meat, lentils, seeds, nuts, eggs, poultry, and seafood. Natural foods are the best sources of zinc but if you cannot get it through them, ZMA tablets may help.
ZMA contains Magnesium
It is mainly involved in numerous metabolic reactions. It performs different roles in maintaining muscle and nerve function, making protein and DNA, synthesizing bone cells, and regulating blood sugar levels. Its natural food sources are dry beans, nuts, seeds, lentils, lean meat, eggs, and poultry. Magnesium supplements are also available to increase its intake.
ZMA contains Vitamin B6
It is a part of the vitamin B family. It is a water-soluble vitamin which means it can easily travel from one part of the body to the other through blood. Vitamin B6 is involved in making neurotransmitters which are chemicals required to transfer the nerve impulse from one neuron to the other. It converts food into energy and helps a cell perform healthily. Poultry, nuts, beans, oats, wheatgerms, and bananas are rich in vitamin B6. You can also acquire it through supplements like ZMA capsules after getting approval from your doctor.
Possible health benefits of the ZMA supplement
Below are the possible health benefits of ZMA capsules. These benefits are linked to the benefits of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
ZMA may manage blood sugar levels
Zinc and magnesium, both minerals, are involved in reducing the blood sugar level in diabetic people. Both work in different ways towards the main goal of managing blood sugar levels.
In one review that analyzed the results of 25 studies, it was found that one thousand plus diabetic patients who took a zinc supplement noticed a reduction in their fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood sugar, and HbA1c (haemoglobin A1c is a marker that shows how well controlled your blood sugar is). 
The same review and more studies also revealed that the effect of zinc supplement was similar to the effects of popular diabetes medicine. It mainly affected the concentration of the HbA1c marker and decreased it to the levels as metformin does. 
People suffering from Diabetes Mellitus have insufficient insulin in their blood or their body cells do not respond well to the insulin circulating in the bloodstream. Insulin is an important hormone that takes sugar from the blood to body cells.
Studies indicate that when diabetic patients take magnesium supplements their body’s ability to sense and use insulin increases many times which result in the reduction of blood sugar levels. 
In another review article that analyzed around 18 studies, it was revealed that diabetic patients who took magnesium supplements noticed a reduction in their blood sugar level that was not observed in patients who took the placebo. When the same experiment was performed on people who were at risk of developing diabetes, the same results were observed. 
All these studies prove the effectiveness of magnesium and zinc and show that ZMA supplement may also show the same results. It is best to get your doctor’s advice before taking any ZMA tablets to control your blood sugar levels.
ZMA may increase overall immunity
All the main components of ZMA tablets play a role in boosting the immune system in different ways. Effects of these ingredients have been studied separately in different experiments which do prove their influence on the immune system. Let’s see the results of studies conducted on each element separately.
Zinc affects the immune system in several ways. Its key role is in the development and function of cells that are involved in the immune system. Examples of such cells are natural killer cells and neutrophils. Increasing the intake of zinc is one way to protect yourself from infections and speed up the wound healing process. [5, 6]
Magnesium has a role in managing the process of inflammation. Its deficiency may cause a chronic condition called long-term inflammation. This type of inflammation leads to life-threatening conditions like cancer, heart stroke, and heart diseases. Studies prove that people who take magnesium supplements have fewer inflammation markers compared to people who do not take them. 
Vitamin B6 is involved in immune system regulation. Its deficiency can cause immune system impairment. The human immune system requires this vitamin to generate white blood cells that fight off foreign particles. Vitamin B6 makes them more powerful to kill germs and protect body tissues. 
These pieces of evidence show the ability of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 to regulate the immune system. Therefore, a ZMA supplement, which is a combination of these three nutrients, may also help you develop a stronger immune system.
ZMA may improve mood
Magnesium and vitamin B6 are two of the main components of ZMA tablets. Both nutrients are known to have a positive effect on mood.
In one large study, blood samples of 8,900 participants were tested. It was discovered that people who had a low magnesium intake were at a higher risk of developing depression.  In another study, some older adults were given 450 mg of magnesium every day for some time. At the end of the research, it was found out that symptoms of depression were reduced in these patients. The effects of magnesium supplements were similar to antidepressant medicines. 
Many studies have also shown a connection between the low levels of vitamin B6 in blood to the development of depression.  However, studies that used vitamin B6 supplement as a treatment of depression did not find any noticeable improvement in symptoms.
People suffering from depression and having mood issues may have low levels of magnesium and vitamin B6. If you have gotten your blood tests and you really are deficient in vitamin B6 and magnesium, then taking ZMA capsules may help you improve depression symptoms.
ZMA may elevate sleep quality
Today’s world has become very fast and advanced. This fastness of the world has helped us in many ways but it has disturbed the sleep quality of millions of people. People neglect their diets as a result they fail to get healthy nutrients. Lack of magnesium and zinc has been reported to disturb sleep quality.
Many studies indicate that magnesium helps to manage the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a form of system that relaxes the body muscles and helps the body fall asleep.  Thus, its deficiency may affect the parasympathetic nervous system too.
Likewise, both animal and human-based studies show that increasing the intake of zinc improves sleep quality. In another study, insomniac people were given a combination of magnesium, zinc, and melatonin (a hormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle). These supplements helped them fall asleep and enjoy a sound sleep.  These pieces of evidence show that taking ZMA capsules might be the right option for people having poor sleep quality.
ZMA supplement and testosterone
ZMA tablets are very popular among athletes and bodybuilders because they believe that these tablets boost their testosterone, which eventually increases their performance, increases muscle mass, and promotes muscle healing. However, the research on the connection between ZMA supplement and testosterone shows mixed results.
In one study, 27 football players were given a ZMA supplement for 2 months. At the end of the research, it was found out that their testosterone level increased by up to 33.5%. Players also noticed improved muscle strength.  However, a few studies did not observe an increase in testosterone levels.
Therefore, it is better to take ZMA capsules after talking to a doctor or maybe a fitness enthusiast who is aware of its true effects on testosterone levels.
ZMA supplement and weight loss
Zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 can individually help with weight loss. Several studies conducted on these nutrients show good results. But the same cannot be said about ZMA tablets because they have not been studied as vastly. The best way to lose weight and maintain it is by bringing lifestyle changes and eating healthy foods.
The recommended ZMA supplement dose
ZMA tablets are available in different doses in the market. You should get the tablets that meet your needs the best. The recommended ZMA supplement dose is what we have already mentioned above (450 mg of magnesium, 30 mg of zinc, and 10 to 11 mg of vitamin B6).
ICON ZMA capsules have 1,500 mg per serving (3 capsules make one serving). These capsules are non-GMA, 100% vegan, and contain zero filler. The company offers good quality capsules at a feasible rate. It's one container has a total of 30 servings.
When should I take a ZMA supplement?
It is often recommended to take ZMA tablets empty stomach 1 hour before going to sleep at night. It is because its ingredients may interact with calcium and other nutrients. Magnesium can also make a person feel sleepy. So, it is better to take it at night when you are already planning to go to sleep.
Are there any side effects of the ZMA supplement?
ZMA tablets are safe for people if they are taken in moderation. They have no reported side effects. But you may experience them if you take its high dose by going against the manufacturer’s instructions. High levels of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 can cause nausea, diarrhoea, numbness in the feet, stomach cramps, dizziness, and loss of appetite.
ZMA - The bottom line
Zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 are important nutrients that maintain different body processes and help us stay healthy. These nutrients are combined in the ZMA supplement to help people get their beneficial effects through a single supplement. ZMA capsules can help you with your sleep quality, immune system, and depression. Take them according to your doctor’s advice.
- Effects of zinc supplementation on diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effect of intensive blood-glucose control with metformin on complications in overweight patients with type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 34). UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) Group - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effect of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance in humans: A systematic review - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Zinc in Infection and Inflammation - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Magnesium deficiency and increased inflammation: current perspectives - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in critically ill patients - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Magnesium intake and depression in adults - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Efficacy and safety of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression in the elderly with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, equivalent trial - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Vitamin B6 level is associated with symptoms of depression - PubMed (nih.gov)
- [Long-term HRV analysis shows stress reduction by magnesium intake] - PubMed (nih.gov)
- The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Brilla1ColV2.PDF (asep.org)