ZMA And Testosterone: Everything You Need to Know About Zinc Magnesium Asparate

ZMA (Zinc Magnesium Asparate) is a somewhat simple supplement that contains 15-30 mg’s zinc (monomethionine and aspartate), 350-500 mg’s magnesium (aspartate), and 10-20 mg’s vitamin B6 (pyridioxine hydrochloride).

It was invented by the ex-basist of the band Tower of Power – Victor Conte – Who since then has been linked to various doping scandals and has even served time in prison due to steroid distribution…

In case you’re wondering, ZMA has nothing to do with doping or steroids, even though it was invented by a guy who has a history with such substances.

ZMA is sold primarily as a recovery enhancer and testosterone booster for bodybuilders, gymnasts, and various other athletes. That’s also how ZMA originally caught my attention. It was the first “testosterone booster” that I ever tested.

But the big question is, does it work?

ZMA, Testosterone, and Muscle Recovery

zma and male testosterone levelsZMA is probably the most popular non-herbal testosterone booster on the market.

And it’s not a surprise that the claims of its benefits are sometimes greatly exaggerated. After all, it’s just zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6…

…So I hate to burst the bubble, but if you were expecting steroid like benefits from the supplement, then you can keep on dreaming.

That being said, ZMA can still be very useful in terms of testosterone production and recovery.

Here’s why:

a) We already know that zinc consumption increases testosterone levels, at least if you’re deficient in the mineral to begin with, a condition which applies to a huge chunk of the population (study, study, study, study)

b) We also know that magnesium increases free testosterone levels via lowering SHBG (study, study, study)

c) Vitamin B6 is in ZMA because it improves the absorption of both minerals. Furthermore it will also lower prolactin levels.

d) Zinc and magnesium are both linked to improved sleep quality (study, study, study), and better sleep is directly linked to increased testosterone production and muscle recovery.

c) Only few human studies have examined zinc, magnesium, and B6 (ZMA) in combination. This one saw a 30% increase in testosterone and some pretty incredible strength gains when compared to placebo (keep in mind that it was sponsored by a ZMA manufacturer).

So at least from the scientific perspective, ZMA is pretty well covered and it seems to do exactly what it’s sold for. My personal experiences with ZMA are in line with the science presented above.

But can’t I just buy zinc, magnesium, and B6 as separate supplements?

Yes you most certainly can, and that’s what I personally do and recommend as you can get better quality, price, and absoprtion if you purchase them separately.


Why are all the ingredients of ZMA in asparate form, does this matter?

That’s because it’s believed that asparates improve the message sending between cells and hormones, which would improve the testosterone boosting effects of the supplement.

However the amounts of asparate in ZMA are so minimal that you shouldn’t worry about that. Asparates don’t have that good of a bio-availibity in the body when compared to orotate, glycinate, or citrate.

I’ve heard that zinc and magnesium battle for absorption and shouldn’t be stacked?

It’s true that zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron all bind to the same receptors inside the body, however the receptors can uptake around 800 mg’s of minerals at a time, so unless you’re megadosing on all of them simultaneously, you should be fine in terms of absorption.

Do the dosages have to be the same as in ZMA supplements for separate minerals and B6?

Nope, not really. Those are just recommendations invented by Victor Conte, and they’re just that, recommendations.

Does ZMA work for everyone?

I doubt that it has any significant effects in people who can maintain optimal levels of zinc and magnesium in their serum on a day-to-day basis. However this isn’t the case for most people due to the fact that modern day foods are mostly processed to the point where most minerals and vitamins are destroyed. Furthermore you also have to keep in mind that magnesium and zinc both evaporate through sweat and we don’t have a storage system inside the body for them.


ZMA is a legit supplement that does what it’s mainly marketed for (although some companies hype the supplement up a bit too much).

To get the benefits of ZMA, you can also supplement with zinc, magnesium, and B6 as separate supplements. This would give you better options in terms of price, quality, and absorption as explained above.

In case you would like to buy ZMA instead of separate minerals and B6, then this brand is the one that gets my recommendations (affiliate link).

ZMA And Testosterone: Everything You Need to Know About Zinc Magnesium Asparate was last modified: January 25th, 2018 by Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men, and an Independent Researcher that has been credited with organizing the findings that have helped thousands of men reach hormonal balance.
free micronutrient report


  1. Rising Fire on 08/07/2014 at 02:34

    How many mg’s of zinc do you take daily? Do you take zinc with a little copper?

    • Ali Kuoppala on 02/08/2014 at 12:27

      I use low dose copper daily to avoid depletion due to zinc, and I take 60-120 mg’s of zinc.

      • Mike Robins on 29/06/2015 at 04:12

        thats much too much zinc

  2. bahadur on 13/09/2014 at 05:09

    How about using shilajit instead of zinc and magnesuim???

  3. Mike Tepps on 13/09/2014 at 11:24

    Is it ok to take effervescent( fizzy) zinc and magnesium tablets?

    • Will on 01/07/2015 at 17:53

      Ali is the expert, but I have read the effervescent can be more readily absorbed. Best thing to do is to try them and experiment, log results and compare.

  4. Tomi on 13/09/2014 at 13:46

    I have notices that strangely ZMA affects my sleep very negatively whereas taking Magnesium and Zinc separately does not. I have read also about other similar experience. Any ideas why this could be?

    • stax76 on 28/06/2015 at 19:04

      It obviously the B6 and if you search then you’ll find many people report very bad effects from B6, the B6 dosage is 4 times higher then some people can tolerate.

    • Will on 01/07/2015 at 17:49

      I have found it is the magnesium asparate. I’ve dosed with high amounts of B6 and have never had issues. But anything I’ve ever used with magnesium asparate gives weird dreams and sleep issues.

      Take them separate and buy the magnesium glycinate that Ali recommends.

  5. New Caesars on 13/09/2014 at 15:25

    Do you cycle Zinc or ZMA?

  6. Dem Gainz on 05/02/2015 at 04:36

    Ive been taking ZMA and my lifts have gotten stronger and same with my libido. Problem is, I’ve had some crazy side effects: crazy dreams, the shits, WAY too much aggression, and poor sleep quality. Help me out here, ALI!!!!

    • Will on 01/07/2015 at 17:47

      I have found taking a better form of magnesium eliminates the weird dreams. The magnesium asparate gives me the craziest dreams. Taking them individually and buy the form of magnesium Ali recommends (mag glycinate) will stop the dreams and weird head shit. It did for me at least.

  7. stax76 on 28/06/2015 at 18:53

    ZMA wrecked me all the time giving a very strong very weird tiredness, after searching the internet I found out that many people posted the exact same symptoms after taking high B6 dosages.

  8. Steel_Body on 08/09/2015 at 10:37

    i bought a bottle 4 month ago, and its was written like California state knows it may cause birth defect or harm reproductive system, thrown away without even breaking the seal – Why would I pay to get harm and especially “reproductive system” lol 😀

  9. Gilles Bkk on 01/09/2017 at 05:38

    zma gives me strong migraine the next morning that last for 2 days !

Leave a Comment

free micronutrient report