What Is ZMA? Should I Be Taking It?

What Is ZMA? Should I Be Taking It?

I received an e-mail asking me if I believe that the mineral supplement referred to as ZMA dramatically elevates testosterone levels as some research studies suggest, and whether or not I recommend taking it.

My answer is that any time someone comes out with a well-documented study proving the benefits of certain natural supplements, you can almost always count on a new study being funded by the AMA and pharmaceutical industries to refute it. This happened repeatedly with Dr. Linus Pauling, the famous nutritionist who was a two-time winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. Pauling was famous for his research into the wide-ranging benefits of Vitamin C. In the case of ZMA, it’s no different.

Here’s the deal. ZMA is a supplement that combines zinc (as monomethoinine and aspartate), magnesium (as aspartate), and Vitamin B6. Some research studies indicate that it can dramatically increase strength and elevate both testosterone and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor-1) to youthful levels.

Do I believe it is true? It certainly could be in some cases. Let me explain what I mean by that. For men who have been eating a well balanced diet with high levels of organic fruits and vegetables and moderate amounts of grass-fed beef and bison, as well taking a comprehensive chelated mineral supplement, I doubt that they would notice a great deal of difference. However, such men who are already in peak form are not the norm, but are, in fact, a different breed than the average American man.

In contrast, I can virtually guarantee that your average marathon runner or any man who works out or sweats a great deal and who is existing on the S.A.D. (standard American diet) and not taking a good potent multi-mineral supplement will in all probability be deficient in both zinc and magnesium. For such a man, taking ZMA before going to sleep each night would make such a difference that he would see, feel, and be able to document increases in his strength and endurance levels, not to mention experience a dramatic increase in his virile powers, within a few short weeks. Naturally, over the course of time he would no longer be deficient, and he will then be normalized, and feeling strong and virile will be his new standard of normalcy.

So do I recommend it? You bet I do. But if you’re already in superior condition and doing everything correctly in terms of strength/endurance exercise and consuming the best nutritious foods and supplements, you will not see or feel a tremendous difference. It certainly won’t hurt you in any way, but if you're already in super shape, don’t expect it to make you feel much different.

—John Peterson, ND

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