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What is ZMA? Does ZMA Boost Test?

ZMA is an anabolic mineral support formula that is a combination of two minerals, zinc and magnesium, and Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. All three of these compounds are important in biological processes. While most Americans get enough zinc and Vitamin B6, more than 50% don't meet the U.S. government's recommendation for magnesium.

As a supplement, ZMA is used by bodybuilders and athletes to increase anabolic hormone levels and muscle strength. Studies have shown that supplementing 30mg of zinc and 450mg per day of magnesium can elevate testosterone levels.

In 1999, a study performed with NCAA football players showed ZMA increased free testosterone levels and muscle strength. The study was done by Lorrie Brilla, PhD, a sports performance researcher at Western Washington University. The results were published in the official ACSM journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Vol 31, No. 5, May 1999. As part of the study, the football players were split into two groups. One group was given a placebo and the other group the ZMA supplement. Over an eight week spring training program, the ZMA group had more than 2x the muscle strength gains than the placebo group. Pre and post leg strength measurements were conducted using what a Biodex isokinetic dynamometer. The strength of ZMA group increased by 11.6% compared to only a 4.6% in the placebo group.

In contrast, a study performed in 2004 with 42 resistance-trained males showed that ZMA supplementation had no significant effects on total and free testosterone, IGF-1, growth hormone, cortisol, the ratio of cortisol to testosterone, or muscle and liver enzymes in response to training. No significant effects were observed in changes in strength, upper or lower body muscle endurance, or anaerobic sprint capacity.

Yet another study in 2006 by German scientists on the effect of ZMA and testosterone levels in the body showed an increase in zinc secretions in urine, making it much darker like blood, but no effect on the level of testosterone in the body.

Another claimed benefit of ZMA is better sleep. Most people using ZMA report they fall asleep faster and sleep deeper and more soundly than before.

To date, there have been no reported negative side effects directly related to taking ZMA.

The final verdict? Current evidence that ZMA has any effect on strength, hormone levels, or body composition is currently lacking. Researchers at Baylor University in Texas published the results of an 8-week study made the follow conclusions:

“No significant differences were observed between groups in anabolic or catabolic hormone status, body composition, 1-RM bench press and leg press, upper or lower body muscular endurance, or cycling anaerobic capacity. Results indicate that ZMA supplementation during training does not appear to enhance training adaptations in resistance trained populations”.

According to this study, ZMA did not work at all for enhancing anabolic hormone status, increasing muscle mass, improving strenght, or enhancing endurance or anaerobic capacity. The participants in this study included 42 resistance trained males who took the supplement prior to resistance training for a total of 8 weeks.

The ProhormoneDB verdict after research: if you need to supplement your zinc or magnesium levels, go for it. If you're looking to boost test, keep your cash in your pocket.
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