ZMA is a scientifically designed supplement which is most frequently used by athletes and bodybuilders as a recovery aid after exercise. Zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6, the components of ZMA, are all vital nutrients for energy production, cell metabolism, protein synthesis, muscle function, etc. – in other words, they are essential for many of the most important processes in the body.

ZMA is also claimed to provide its users with better sleep quality as well as increased duration of sleep. In addition to the direct sleep benefits, ZMA may also enhance muscle recovery indirectly as more and better sleep is also beneficial for recuperating. Also, although this may have not been an intended effect when the ZMA formula was created, ZMA has been reported to support erectile functioning and have libido enhancing properties.

The ZMA formula is composed of the following ingredients:

The reason zinc and magnesium are provided in aspartate form (bound to the amino acid precursor aspartate) is because this form has a high absorption rate in the body compared to other forms of these minerals.

Although research is not conclusive on the benefits of ZMA supplementation, there are research studies on ZMA as well as on the individual components of ZMA that report significant benefits from supplementing with these nutrients. However, the benefits are generally only observed in individuals who are already deficient in these nutrients. Individuals who have adequate levels of these nutrients have typically reported no benefits from supplementation.

ZMA may enhance muscle recovery after intense physical exercise. This effect comes mainly from zinc and magnesium which are important for protein synthesis. Protein synthesis helps muscles form, rebuild and recover. Zinc supplementation has also been proven to have a positive effect on decreasing levels of oxidative stress and reducing inflammation throughout the body.

ZMA is also claimed to increase muscle gains as well as testosterone levels. One study reviewed the effect of ZMA on 27 NCAA Division II (U.S. university level) football players. These players were given either ZMA or a placebo every night during an eight-week training program. The study reported that the athletes taking the ZMA supplement experienced a muscle strength gain of 11.6%, compared to 4.6% in the placebo group, during the 8 weeks. The persons taking ZMA also had more than a 30% increase in testosterone levels. It should be noted however, that this study was funded by the intellectual property right holder of ZMA, and that other research studies have found no or little impact on increases in testosterone and muscle mass.

Studies have reported longer sleep duration and better and more consistent sleep in persons supplementing with zinc and magnesium individually. Longer and better quality sleep will also aid in muscle recovery as this means more and better rest. Separately, people have also reported having more vivid and lucid dreams when they have taken ZMA before going to bed.

We lose significant amounts of nutrients during intense exercise through sweat and urine secretion, and particularly the losses of zinc and magnesium are significant. As a result, athletes are often deficient in these minerals. However, regular folks are also often deficient as our day-to-day diet may not contain large amounts of zinc and magnesium.

  • Modern agriculture often does not replenish all the nutrients that are taken out of the ground. When a plant absorbs a set of nutrients from the ground and only some of those nutrients are replenished with fertilizer, it means less nutrients are left for next year.
  • Foods rich in calcium, such as dairy products, inhibit the absorption of both zinc and magnesium by the small intestines. Copper, as well as foods rich in phytic acid (found in grains, cereals, legumes, and corn) also hinder the absorption of zinc and magnesium by the small intestines. Additionally, alcohol also decreases the absorption of these nutrients.
  • People that follow a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet may also experience zinc deficiency as zinc is not particularly common in these foods. Many of the foods eaten by vegans or vegetarians also contain phytic acid, which reduces the absorption of this mineral.

A 1998 laboratory test on the mineral status of over 250 NFL players, including the entire Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins football teams showed that over 70% of these football players were either depleted or deficient in both zinc and magnesium. Research studies on non-athletes has also shown that a large portion of the population is deficient in zinc and magnesium.

Zinc in the Body

Zinc is one of the most common minerals found in the body, and about 300 different enzymes depend on zinc in order to make important chemical reactions happen.

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, normal body growth and development. Significant physical exercise, for instance, puts stress on the muscular and skeleton systems. If this exercise is substantial enough, it will break down tiny muscle fibers. The muscle fibers are then rebuilt, and rebuilt even stronger than before in order to adjust to the increased external stress. As a result, the muscle increases in size and strength from exercise. Zinc is a very important mineral in repairing and growing these systems.

Zinc is particularly important for maintaining a healthy prostate and to avoid prostate inflammation. Zinc is also essential for maintaining thyroid hormone production. In addition, zinc is paramount for maintaining sperm count and sperm motility. Zinc is very important for testosterone production as zinc is one of the key ingredients for building testosterone. Zinc also has antioxidant properties.

Zinc on Libido and Erectile Function

Research on people has shown that there is a clear relationship between zinc and testosterone. Zinc is in fact one of the most important components for a healthy testosterone level, and several studies have shown that zinc deficient men are also often testosterone deficient. A zinc deficiency will typically also reduce the number of androgen receptors in the body. As a result, free testosterone in the bloodstream is then more likely to be converted to estrogen. At the same time, the number of estrogen receptors is likely to increase. If testosterone levels are decreased significantly in a man, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction are likely consequences. To learn more about testosterone on Truelibido, please go here.

Studies performed on rats have reported similar results. In one study on 32 sexually experienced rats, rats were fed either with a zinc-rich or a zinc-deficient diet for two weeks. The study reported that rats supplemented with 5 mg of zinc/day had their level of testosterone almost tripled. These rats also had an increase in the number of penile thrustings. In these studies, rats that were fed the zinc-deficient diet had significantly lower concentrations of luteinizing hormone, and testosterone than the other rats. 1 mg of zinc/day did not cause any changes, and 10 mg of zinc/day had negative results on sexual activity.

Similarly, zinc can help increase the concentrations of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for proper development and differentiation of all cells of the human body, and they regulate how cells use protein, fat, and carbohydrate. Thyroid hormones also play an important role in maintaining natural testosterone levels, and inadequate levels of thyroid hormones are associated with low levels of testosterone.

Zinc has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is one of the body’s ‘stress hormones’, and is secreted when a person experiences both mild stress like stress experienced in the workplace, or stress from a life-threatening situation. Persistent high levels of cortisol are particularly bad for testosterone, because cortisol and testosterone normally compete for a limited combined presence. Put differently, cortisol is akin to an enemy of testosterone as it tends to crowd out testosterone levels. To learn more about my experience with stress on Truelibido, please go here.

Research also indicates that zinc is a potent inhibitor of an enzyme called 5a-reductase. 5a-reductase converts testosterone to something called 5a-dihydrotestosterone (‘DHT’). When this happens, there is less pure testosterone available in the bloodstream. When zinc inhibits 5a-reductase, less testosterone is converted and hence more testosterone is available for the body to use.

Zinc can also act as an inhibitor on the enzyme alled aromatase. Aromatase is involved in the process of converting testosterone to estrogen. When zinc inhibits aromatase, less testosterone will be converted and hence more of it will be available in the bloodstream.

Researchers have found that zinc is one of the most important minerals regulating dopamine. Zinc binds to the transporter of dopamine and therefore allows dopamine to remain active in the bloodstream for a longer period of time before it is broken down. When dopamine is active for longer, it will normally also support libido and erectile functioning for longer. To learn more about dopamine on Truelibido, please go here.

Giacomo Casanova, the 18th century seduction master, was reported to eat plates after plates of oysters before having sex. He claimed that these oysters were a very potent aphrodisiac which made him lust for women. Oysters happen to be an unusually rich source of zinc, and it is thought that zinc is the reason for this effect.

Several research studies have also shown that zinc is crucial for sperm production and healthy sperm function. Zinc is one of the very important building blocks of sperm, and on average, one load of sperm ejaculate will contain 3-5 mg of zinc.

The Role of Magnesium in the Body

Magnesium is also one of the most abundant minerals in the human body, and similarly to zinc, magnesium is also critical for the proper functioning of more than 300 different enzymes in the body. These enzymes regulate functions such as protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, normal heart function, nerve impulse transmission, muscle relaxation, bone health, the immune system, blood pressure and energy production.

Magnesium contributes to the structural development of bones and is required for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and healthy function of the cardiovascular system. Magnesium is important for the body’s detoxification processes and therefore is important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals and other toxins. Magnesium is also a very important nutrient for achieving proper sleep, and magnesium deficiency is a key cause of inadequate sleep duration and quality.

Similarly to zinc, magnesium is also essential to prostate health and proper functioning of the prostate. Magnesium is essential in the production of the sex hormones such as androgen and estrogen, as well as neurotransmitters that modulate sex drive – the most prominent being dopamine and epinephrine.

The Impact of Magnesium on Libido and Erectile Function

Research studies have shown that magnesium supplementation increases both free and total testosterone levels in men. One study reported that 10 mg of magnesium supplementation coupled with exercise, such as taekwondo, can lead to higher free and total testosterone levels than magnesium supplementation without exercise. This study ran for four weeks.

Studies have also shown that magnesium deficiency is highly correlated with inferior testosterone levels. Magnesium has been reported to play an important role in the production of androgens, of which testosterone is one of the primary ones. If testosterone levels are reduced substantially in a man, loss of libido and erectile dysfunction are likely to occur.

Research studies have also reported that magnesium plays a part in regulating cortisol and that inadequate levels of magnesium may cause cortisol levels to elevate. High cortisol levels will normally cause a decrease in testosterone levels.

Magnesium is also important for levels of a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (‘DHEA’) to remain at adequate levels. The body uses DHEA to make androgens and estrogens, the male and female sex hormones. Inadequate DHEA levels will typically result in reduced levels of these hormones. Studies show that persons supplemented with DHEA have seen their testosterone levels increase.

In addition, research has shown that magnesium inhibits the protein called sex hormone-binding globulin (‘SHBG’) from binding to testosterone. SHBG, as well as a protein called albumin, binds to testosterone so that only about 3% of testosterone is unbound, or in free form in the bloodstream. When magnesium prevents SHBG from binding to testosterone, more testosterone will be free and available for use.

Several studies also report that magnesium is essential for nitric oxide to function properly in the body. Nitric oxide is the molecule that makes blood vessels increase in size, or the process called vasodilation, which allows for increased bloodflow.

When an erection is about to happen, nitric oxide is released into the bloodstream. This makes the smooth muscles in the penis relax, which in turn lets bloodflow into the penis. If nitric oxide is stopped from making these muscles relax, blood is not allowed to enter the penis and an erection will not happen. To learn more about nitric oxide on Truelibido, please go here.

Not only does magnesium support nitric oxide, but it also inhibits the effect of calcium in supporting smooth muscle contraction. When the penis is in the flaccid state, the smooth muscles in the penis contract and clench around the blood vessels so that blood is not allowed to enter the penis, other than for maintenance purposes. It is calcium that regulates this contraction. When magnesium is present to inhibit calcium, this contraction of the smooth muscles is eased, and as a result erections will happen more easily. In addition, magnesium is important for the proper functioning of the inner lining of the blood vessels, called the endothelium. The endothelium acts as a filter for what can enter and exit the blood vessels. When the endothelium is not working properly, erectile dysfunction will often present itself. To learn more about the erection process on Truelibido, please go here.

Magnesium is also essential in the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

Role of Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is one of 8 B vitamins. All B vitamins help the body convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is used to produce energy. These B vitamins, often referred to as B complex vitamins, also help the body metabolize fats and protein. B complex vitamins are needed for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.

Similarly to zinc and magnesium, vitamin B6 is important in order for hundreds of enzymes to carry out their functions in the body. In addition to converting carbohydrates to make energy, vitamin B6 helps the body convert protein into energy.

Hemoglobin, the protein that helps carry oxygen around the body, requires vitamin B6 in order to be created, and also needs adequate levels of vitamin B6 to function properly. Vitamin B6 is also essential for gene expression, or the process by which a gene is able to synthesize proteins and other components in order to carry out the code within that gene.

Vitamin B6 is required for proper production of key neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid in the nervous system and the brain. Vitamin B6 is also one of the most important components used in the process of removing unwanted chemicals from our blood by the liver and kidney. It is reported to have anti-inflammation properties and to support a healthy immune system. In addition, vitamin B6 is needed to absorb vitamin B12 and to make hormones, red blood cells and cells of the immune system. Vitamin B6 is also crucial for making antibodies, which are needed to fight many diseases.

The Impact of Vitamin B6 on Libido and Erectile Function

Vitamin B6 helps reduce elevated levels of a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin has many functions in the body, but it also has effects that can be negative for libido and erectile functioning.

Elevated levels of prolactin will normally reduce testosterone levels and may also reduce levels of dopamine. After a man has an orgasm, he will normally not want to have anything to do with sex. He will normally need some time to again be interested in sex. This period is called the refractory period. It is the hormone prolactin which is responsible for this effect. Very high levels of prolactin are also thought to be responsible for erectile dysfunction and loss of libido. Because vitamin B6 helps control and reduce these prolactin levels when elevated, vitamin B6 may have a positive effect on libido and erectile functioning.

Vitamin B6 is important in the production of adrenal hormones as well as optimal function of these hormones, testosterone being one of the key adrenal hormones. Therefore, vitamin B6 plays an important role in the levels of testosterone in the body.

Vitamin B6 is also essential for the production of dopamine as this vitamin is an essential building block for dopamine. Research has shown that depressed levels of vitamin B6 are likely to lead to depressed levels of dopamine.

Research has also found that vitamin B6 helps to enhance the absorption of both zinc and magnesium, both of which are important for libido and erectile functioning.

My Experience

  • Form: Capsules
  • Dose: 500 mg
  • When: One hour before sexual activity
  • Effect on Libido: None
  • Effect on Erections: Moderate
  • Effect on Sensation: Moderate
  • Taste: Neutral
  • Verdict: A good supplements
  • Noticed Side-Effects: None

When I started experimenting with ZMA, I had already tried other powerful supplements such as Tribulus Terrestris, Fenugreek, Horny Goat Weed and Maca, and I had seen great results.

But I was keen to learn more and experiment with new supplements. One supplement that I had read about in several discussion forums and posts, was ZMA. The reviews and experiences I read were mixed. Some had good results and some denied that it had any effect. However, as I kept reading about ZMA, I wanted to try it for myself.

I studied it to find out exactly what it was and how it was supposed to work, and then proceeded to purchase a package of capsules.

I took the recommended doze (500 mg), which was three capsules, about one hour before having sex. To me, the ZMA capsules had no taste. One good thing about capsules, is that even if the powder inside the capsules tastes bad, the bad taste is not experienced since the capsule is only dissolved once in the stomach.

What effects did ZMA have on me? First of all, I did not notice any increase in libido leading up to sex. In other words, it did not make me horny or otherwise get me geared up for sex. This has also been my experience the many other times I have taken ZMA by itself – for me, there is no impact on libido.

However, I really enjoyed the effect I got on my erections from taking ZMA. Although it was not as strong as from some of the herbal supplements, my erections were noticeably firmer and fuller. And this experience has been confirmed from the several times I have taken ZMA since – it reliably makes my erections more robust.

In addition to this, ZMA has also made the pleasurable sensations I get from sex stronger and more intense. I was really positively surprised the first time I tried it, as the effect was certainly noticeable. And I have had the same experience later as well – ZMA has consistently increased the pleasurable sensations I get when having sex.

I also recall initially to occasionally have had some vivid and bizarre dreams after taking ZMA. My dreams got more crazy than normal. However, this seemed to happen mostly initially.

Also, I have never experienced any side effects from ZMA.

ZMA has become one of my favorite supplements, but I rarely take it by itself anymore. Through lots of experimenting and trying out combinations of supplements, I have found that ZMA works really well in combination with other supplements. Because when I take ZMA with other supplements, the effects I get are even more amazing.

Through this trying and testing, I have made three supplements my base. Meaning, when I do take supplements, I normally always take these three supplements as a base, and then add one powerful herbal supplement on top of this.

The supplements I take as a base are l-arginine (or l-citrulline), pine bark and ZMA. And then in addition to these three, I typically always take either Tongkat Ali, Tribulus Terrestris, Fenugreek, Maca or Horny Goat Weed.

When taking these supplements together, the effects and experiences I have had have simply been fantastic! This combination has significantly increased my libido, made my erections stronger and also made the sensations from sex even more powerful. You can learn more about this in the section called The Solution. And the best thing is that these combinations are relatively reliable, meaning I typically always have the same positive experience.

The reason why combinations of supplements work well, may be because the different supplements impact different mechanisms and functions in the body. It may also be because one supplement makes another more effective, meaning there are synergistic effects. And the reason may also be because 4 supplements (a larger total dose) will often have a larger effect than a smaller dose (one dose of one supplement).

Research Studies

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Brilla, L. R. and Conte, V. Effects of a Novel Zinc-Magnesium Formulation on Hormones and Strength. Journal of Exercise Physiology online. 3 (4): 2000.

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