Vitamins and minerals
What is ZMA?
Image Source: Yakobchuk

ZMA is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 taken by many athletes and bodybuilders. The most prominent reason for taking ZMA is the increase in muscle mass and strength that users report.

Increased mass and strength found by users was confirmed by an independent double-blind study. Dr. Lorrie Brilla of Western Washington University found that those taking ZMA compared to the placebo group had 2.5 times greater muscle strength gains.

Let’s take a look at each of the individual components of ZMA, and why each is important to build muscle mass.


Zinc is a crucially important mineral, particularly for males due to its role in testosterone production, and as we all know by now, testosterone is essential for building muscle. With increased testosterone comes a higher libido and enhanced recovery, along with increased strength and size.

Studies conducted in the United States have shown that less than 70% of the population get enough of this essential nutrient in their diet. It also found those who exercise and train regularly tend to have lower levels than average, so getting additional Zinc in the form of supplementation into your diet could be essential for your gains.

Magnesium and Vitamin B-6

Whilst Magnesium and Vitamin B-6 are an important part of the ZMA formula, they are generally considered secondary to zinc in terms of muscle building potential.

Magnesium does provide a boost to muscle growth, as it increases protein synthesis much like zinc, and aids in keeping the immune system healthy. Vitamin B-6 increases the absorption of zinc and magnesium, enabling the body to utilise the maximum amount possible.

It should also be noted that ZMA is so effective because both the zinc and magnesium are in the aspartate form, not the chelate, sulfate or citrate most commonly found in multivitamins. For the combination to work effectively strict ratios must be kept to ensure optimal dosages and maximum uptake. So you can see why buying an all in one ZMA is always a better choice than buying the individual components separately.

Should I take ZMA?

ZMA is included in many professional bodybuilders supplementation regime, including my own, due to the benefits and relative cheapness in comparison to other supplements.

The bottom line is, ZMA is a great supplement, and if you want to add mass you should be taking it. It provides a great amount of vitamins that you may already be deficient in, aids in immune response, increases the male sex drive and causes massive strength increases. Combine this with its cost effectiveness and you’ll struggle to find a supplement more highly recommended than ZMA.