Can ZMA Cure Erectile Dysfunction And Improve Libido?
By Johnathan P Cumberwell
Let’s learn more about this supplement.
ZMA is a synthetically designed supplement which is normally used by athletes and bodybuilders to increase performance, and as a recovery aid after exercise.
The ZMA formula is composed of the following ingredients:
- Zinc monomethionine and aspartate (~30 mg)
- Magnesium aspartate (~450 mg)
- Vitamin B6 (~10-11 mg)
The reason zinc comes in aspartate and monomethionine form, and magnesium in aspartate form, is because these forms have a very high absorption rate in the body.
Zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 are all critical for energy production, cell metabolism, protein synthesis and muscle function.
Therefore, many bodybuilders and athletes are faithful users of this supplement.
ZMA is also claimed to give you better sleep quality, as well as increased sleep duration.
Some people have also reported more vivid and lucid dreams when they have taken ZMA before going to bed.
In addition to the direct sleep benefits, ZMA may also enhance muscle recovery indirectly as more and better sleep is also beneficial for recuperating.
There are certain nutrients that we tend to be deficient of, more so than others. Zinc and magnesium are two of these.
Particularly if you exercise a lot.
You normally lose significant amounts of zinc and magnesium through sweat and urine secretion. As a result, athletes are often deficient in these minerals.
Although this supplement was intended for sportsmen and sportswomen, many men (me included) have noticed improvements in erectile function and sex drive from taking ZMA.
Let’s look at how ZMA can help you get better and stronger erections, and how it may also improve your libido.
How Does ZMA Impact Erectile Dysfunction And Libido?
ZMA Can Increase Testosterone Production
Zinc Keeps Your Androgen Receptors In Shape
Research studies (see below) have shown that in order for your androgen receptors (testosterone is an androgen) to work properly, they need zinc. They need zinc for maintenance and in order to operate properly.
If you are zinc deficient, these receptors will normally start to work slower. And if you get severely zinc deficient, research has shown that these receptors may die.
Not only can your androgen receptors die when you are zinc deficient, but the number of estrogen receptors is likely to increase.
And lastly, when you are zinc deficient, some of your testosterone is likely to convert to estrogen.
If you have low testosterone, you are likely to struggle with loss of libido and erectile dysfunction.
Zinc Supports Production Of Thyroid Hormones
What are thyroid hormones?
They are two hormones called thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
These two hormones are essential for proper development and differentiation of all cells in your body, and they regulate how cells use protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
Also, these hormones play a key role in maintaining natural testosterone levels. Research studies (see below) show that low levels of thyroid hormones are associated with low level of testosterone.
Zinc and other trace elements, such as copper and selenium, are required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Therefore, to produce thyroid hormones, you need an appropriate amount of zinc.
Research studies have also indicated that magnesium plays an important part in thyroid hormone production and health.
Should you be deficient in zinc or magnesium, you are likely to have a thyroid hormone imbalance, which in turn is likely to make your testosterone production go down.
Zinc And Magnesium Can Reduce Cortisol Levels
Because if you do, you will most likely have persistent elevated levels of cortisol.
And this will normally make your testicles produce less testosterone.
However, both zinc and magnesium can help reduce this excess cortisol. Because both minerals have in research studies (see below) demonstrated an ability to inhibit cortisol production.
Hence, with less excess cortisol, you will normally have higher testosterone production. Which in turn will normally boost your libido and help you avoid erectile dysfunction.
Zinc Can Inhibit The Enzymes 5a-reductase And Aromatase
Zinc Supports Luteinizing Hormone Production
This hormone then makes a gland in your brain produce another hormone: luteinizing hormone.
Luteinizing hormone then travels with your bloodstream to your testicles.
When in the testicles, it tells a group of cells called Leydig cells to produce testosterone. It is these Leydig cells that do the actual testosterone production in your testicles.
Your Leydig cells are your ‘testosterone factories’.
Zinc has in research studies (see below) demonstrated that it is paramount in order for your body to manufacture luteinizing hormone.
Therefore, with inadequate zinc, you are likely to be deficient in luteinizing hormone, and hence produce insufficient testosterone.
Magnesium Inhibits SHBG From Binding To Testosterone
Only about 3% of the testosterone in your body is ‘free’. And only free testosterone is bioactive and can carry out tasks.
The rest of your testosterone is bound to proteins. One of these proteins is called sex hormone-binding globulin, or SHBG.
These proteins bind to testosterone in order to transport it to somewhere where it is needed, or simply for storage.
Research (see below) have shown that magnesium inhibits SHBG from binding to testosterone.
When this happens, less testosterone is ‘tied up’ and more of it is free and active.
Vitamin B6 Can Reduce Excess Prolactin Levels
As explained above, when your brain has decided that it’s time to make more testosterone, it calls upon a hormone called gonadotropin-releasing hormone.
This hormone then causes your brain to produce luteinizing hormone.
Luteinizing hormone then instructs the Leydig cells that sit in your testicles, to make testosterone.
Research studies (see below) have shown that if you have excess prolactin in your blood, this will normally cause a reduction in the production of gonadotropin-releasing hormone.
This in turn will normally cause your testicles to produce less testosterone.
But vitamin B6 can reduce this excess prolactin, which in turn should mean more testosterone.
Vitamin B6 Is Necessary For Manufacturing of Testosterone
Research studies (see below) have shown that vitamin B6 is an essential ingredient in order for testosterone to be produced.
We are still not sure exactly why this is so, but..
When test subjects were fed a diet inadequate in vitamin B6, their testosterone levels dropped significantly.
Vitamin B6 probably works as a regulator of the balance between testosterone and estrogen. Therefore, when your vitamin B6 level is off, so too will often your testosterone / estrogen balance.
It is also believed that vitamin B6 is important for testosterone receptor health.
ZMA Can Increase Nitric Oxide Production
First off, what is nitric oxide and why is it so important?
Your blood vessels are built up of several layers on top of each other. Think of a blood vessel as a tube inside a tube inside a tube.
One of these layers is a muscle, called smooth muscle.
When your penis is flaccid, the smooth muscles squeeze the blood vessels in your penis flat.
This forces essentially all the blood out of your penis. Hence your penis will be flaccid.
In order for your penis to become erect, it needs to fill with blood.
Both magnesium and vitamin B6 have in research studies (see below) demonstrated an ability to improve the production of nitric oxide.
They both do this by improving the endothelial nitric oxide synthase function.
ZMA Can Increase Dopamine Production
What just just happened? Why did you get these thoughts?
You got these sexual urges because dopamine was produced in your brain. Dopamine was produced in order to motivate you to have sex.
If you hadn’t produced any dopamine, you wouldn’t have had sexual thoughts.
Therefore, a healthy dopamine production is essential in order to have a strong sex drive.
And secondly, dopamine is essential in order for you to get erections.
In order for your penis to get erect, dopamine first needs to be produced in your brain. Then it will send signals down your spinal cord to your penis.
There, these signals will instruct nitric oxide to open up the blood vessels in your penis, so that blood can flow in and produce an erection.
If your dopamine production is low, this signal from your brain to your penis may be weak. And therefore, your erections may be weak as well.
Therefore, dopamine is also paramount in order to get erections.
All the ingredients in ZMA have in research studies (see below) shown that they are important for healthy dopamine production.
Researchers have found that zinc is one of the most important minerals that regulates dopamine.
It does this by regulating dopamine receptors. Therefore, in order for these receptors to work properly, they need zinc.
Studies have also shown that increased zinc levels are correlated with increased dopamine production.
Magnesium is also essential in order for you to have a healthy dopamine production, as it supports the functioning of the dopamine neuron.
In studies, treatment with magnesium has been shown to significantly support dopamine health.
Vitamin B6 is also important for production of dopamine, as it’s one of the ingredients needed in the production process.
Research studies have also shown that in individuals that have excess prolactin levels, administration of vitamin B6 can not only help to normalize the prolactin levels, but also normalize the dopamine levels.
ZMA Has Antioxidant Properties
Here is another problem with free radicals:
They react very easily with your nitric oxide. So if you have lots of free radicals lurking around, chances are that a good amount of your nitric oxide will be ‘eaten up’ by these free radicals.
Which in turn means that it will be more difficult to get and maintain erections.
Antioxidants on the other hand, seek out and destroy free radicals. So when an antioxidant spots a free radical, it rushes over and eliminates it.
Therefore, the more antioxidants you have, the less free radicals you normally have, and the more nitric oxide you normally have.
And as your nitric oxide is better preserved, you will normally find it easier to get erections.
Research (see below) has shown that both zinc and vitamin B6 are antioxidants. Meaning that both of these can extinguish free radicals and therefore preserve your nitric oxide.
Scientific Studies On ZMA’s Effect On Libido And Erectile Dysfunction
Below, you will find all the relevant scientific evidence that exists regarding ZMA and its impact on sexual functions.
Or at least, all the relevant scientific evidence that I am aware of.
With this information at hand, you can better draw your own conclusions.
You will find a summary of the key findings from these scientific studies. And you will find a link to the studies, should you want to read the actual studies yourself.
I have presented all relevant studies I am aware of, whether they indicated that the effect from ZMA was positive or not.
Let’s look at what the scientists say. And let’s first start with the studies done on ZMA. After this, we will look at studies on the individual components of ZMA.
ZMA Study 1: May 2018
The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of ZMA supplementation on serum IGF-I, IGFBP-3 and testosterone concentrations in young athletes.
The study involved 18 men (healthy male amateur American football players aged 18–25) and lasted for 8 weeks. The subjects went through a 90 minute training program twice a week.
Half the men received ZMA daily, the other half did not.
The study concluded that ZMA does not bring any additional benefits, either in the body composition or in the hormonal levels, in subjects under adequate diet.
ZMA Study 2: January 2009
The aim of this study was to investigate whether the administration of the zinc-containing nutritional supplement ZMA, causes an increase of serum testosterone levels.
14 healthy men who already consumed a zinc-sufficient diet were given ZMA daily for 56 days.
The ZMA contained:
- Zinc (30 mg)
- Magnesium (450 mg)
- Vitamin B6 (10.5 mg)
ZMA Study 3: December 2004
The purpose of this study was to examine whether supplementing with ZMA during training, affects zinc and magnesium status, anabolic and catabolic hormone profiles, and / or training adaptations.
This ZMA formula contained more than just zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. The supplement contained the following ingredients:
- 11 mg vitamin B6
- 450 mg magnesium
- 30 mg zinc
- 10 mg potassium
- 706 mg of a blend of Mucuna Pruriens and Polypodium Vulare / Suma
42 resistance trained males took this supplement prior to going to bed for 8 weeks.
The research found no significant differences between groups in anabolic or catabolic hormone status, body composition, bench press and leg press, upper or lower body muscular endurance, or cycling anaerobic capacity.
The study indicated that ZMA supplementation during training does not appear to enhance training adaptations in resistance trained individuals.
ZMA Study 4: October 2000
The Roles Of Zinc In Your Body
Zinc is one of the most common minerals found in your body, and about 300 different enzymes depend on it in order to do their jobs.
This mineral is essential for proper functioning of taste, smell, vision, hair growth, wound healing, the immune system, DNA synthesis, cellular metabolism, neurological function, and for maintaining reproductive organ health.
Zinc is particularly important for cell division and cell repair, bone growth, and body growth.
When you exercise, your muscles increase in size and strength. But in order for them to do so, they need zinc to make this growth happen.
Zinc is also very important for repairing muscle injuries.
And it is particularly important for maintaining a healthy prostate.
Scientific Studies On Zinc’s Impact On Libido And Erectile Dysfunction
In this section, you will find all the relevant scientific evidence that exists about zinc and its impact on ED and sex drive.
Or at least, all the relevant scientific evidence that I am aware of.
Similarly to the section about ZMA, you find a summary of the key findings from these scientific studies. And you find a link to the studies, should you want to read the actual studies yourself.
I have presented all relevant studies I am aware of, whether they indicated that the effect from zinc was positive or not.
Let’s look at what the scientists say about zinc.
Zinc Study 1: January 2020
The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of zinc and / or selenium supplementation, on the androgen receptor in prostate, and on serum hormone concentrations.
84 male rats were administered zinc and / or selenium for 90 days.
Then various measurements were taken.
Zinc Study 2: February 2017
Zinc Study 3: September 2013
Zinc Study 4: May 2010
Zinc Study 5: July 2009
Zinc Study 6: October 2007
Zinc Study 7: April 2006
Zinc Study 8: May 1996
The aim of this study was to assess the effect of marginal zinc deficiency on serum testosterone concentration in men.
40 normal men, aged 20 to 80 years were studied.
The researchers measured serum testosterone before and during marginal zinc deficiency, induced by restricting dietary zinc intake in one group. And before and after zinc supplementation in a group of marginally zinc deficient men.
Zinc Study 9: April 1996
The objective of this study was to study the effects of zinc deficiency on hepatic androgen metabolism and aromatization, androgen and estrogen receptor binding, and circulating levels of reproductive hormones.
Groups of rats were given either a zinc-deficient diet, or were freely fed or pair-fed (last two groups were control groups).
Zinc Study 10: October 1995
Zinc Study 11: January 1990
Zinc Study 12: November 1988
Zinc Study 13: August 1981
Zinc Study 14: April 1981
The Roles Of Magnesium In Your Body
Scientific Studies On Magnesium’s Impact On Libido And ED
Magnesium Study 1: November 2019
Magnesium Study 2: February 2017
Magnesium Study 3: June 2015
Magnesium Study 4: January 2013
Magnesium Study 5: December 2011
Magnesium Study 6: April 2011
Magnesium Study 7: February 2009
Magnesium Study 8: July 2002
Magnesium Study 9: June 1992
The Roles of Vitamin B6 In Your Body
Scientific Studies On Vitamin B6’s Impact On Libido And ED
Vitamin B6 Study 1: May 2016
Vitamin B6 Study 2: January 2010
Vitamin B6 Study 3: October 1984
Vitamin B6 Study 4: May 1984
Vitamin B6 Study 5: September 1979
My Experience With ZMA Supplements
In addition to these three, I typically always take either:
- Tongkat Ali (7 grams), or
- Tribulus Terrestris (7 grams), or
- Fenugreek (7 grams), or
- Maca (14 grams), or
- Horny Goat Weed (7 grams)
Safety Of ZMA Supplements
Buy ZMA Here