ZMA FOR TESTOSTERONE SUPPORT
Original Article: FLEX
I've heard a lot about ZMA and its effects on testosterone. Should I be taking it?
By Steve O'Reilly, RD, LD
If you're like every other bodybuilder on the planet, and you want to get bigger and more ripped, then there are some things you should know about testosterone. First, keeping your testosterone elevated makes it easier to build muscle mass. Second, testosterone declines naturally with age, especially after the age of 40. Obviously, the drop in testosterone is intricately linked to a similar decline in lean muscle mass seen in the same demographic. The more muscle mass you’re able to build when you are younger, the less this is likely to be a problem as you age. As a younger bodybuilder, the more you can support your testosterone levels, the easier it will be to build muscle mass and maintain it. If your testosterone is low, ZMA (zinc monomethionine, magnesium aspartate and vitamin B6) can be effective in helping to boost it.
Testosterone is the androgenic hormone primarily responsible for normal growth and development of male sex and reproductive organs, but it also facilitates the development of male musculature, bone mass and fat distribution. In addition, having normal testosterone levels helps maintain energy, mood and sexual desire. So, your concern about testosterone is warranted.
Before supplementing with ZMA, consider your current zinc and magnesium levels. A deficiency in either zinc or magnesium will trigger a decline in endurance and in the strength capacity of your muscles. In that case, supplementation would obviously be advised.
When zinc levels are low – relatively common in hard-training athletes – then circulating testosterone concentrations also tend to be low. ZMA supplementation is a convenient way to avoid zinc and magnesium deficiencies and, in turn, it may help to maintain normal quantities of circulating testosterone. However, there is little – if any – evidence that ZMA supplementation will help raise a healthy male’s normal level of testosterone to above normal.
When deciding whether ZMA supplementation is right for you, analyze your diet to see if you are getting enough zinc and magnesium from the foods you eat. Some common zinc-containing foods are beef, egg yolks, fish, milk and pork. (The recommended daily allowance, or RDA, for zinc is 15 milligrams [mg].) Some common magnesium-containing foods are almonds, avocados, bananas, diary products and some types of fish. (The RDA for magnesium is approximately 400 mg.)
When you take ZMA, it will generally help you sleep better, especially if you have zinc or magnesium deficiencies (improved sleep quality from ZMA supplementation is a good indication that you should be taking it). It is typically recommended that ZMA be taken on an empty stomach before bedtime and without any sources of calcium, because zinc and calcium compete for absorption. A typical dose of ZMA contains 15-30 mg of zinc, 200-450 mg of magnesium and 10.5 mg of vitamin B6.