ZMA and ZMB Support Healthy Testosterone Levels and Sleep. What Other Benefits Can They Provide?

Both ZMA and ZMB are dietary supplements that are especially popular among athletes. They most often promise anabolic effects through the promotion of healthy testosterone levels, athletic performance and quality sleep. Behind the effects of these synergistic formulas is a trio of micronutrients in the form of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. These play a key role in a number of bodily functions related to immunity, muscle function and overall health. In this article you will learn, among other things, what the individual substances contained in ZMA and ZMB are and why athletes and those who are less active should watch their intake.

In this article you will read about the influence of ZMA and ZMB on these specific areas:

What is ZMA?

As you already know, ZMA j is a dietary supplement containing zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. However, SNAC Nutrition’s original formulation specifically has zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) in the formula. You may also come across the name zinc magnesium aspartate. However, this mixture has a trademark. [1]

What is the composition of ZMA?

One dose of this supplement usually contains [2]:

  • 30 mg of zinc monomethionine aspartate
  • 450 mg of magnesium aspartate
  • 10.5 mg pyridoxine hydrochloride

This original formula has a trademark. However, you can also find ZMA on the market from other manufacturers with a different composition. The differences are both in the forms of zinc or magnesium, as well as in the amount of active ingredients in the one dose. [3] 

What is ZMB?

In the ingredients list of supplements called ZMB or ZMB6 you can also find zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. Thanks to this, they also have similar effects on health and sports performance.

What is the difference between ZMA and ZMB?

The main difference is in the name of these supplements. ZMA with the registered trademark has the exact composition that we have listed above. In the case of ZMB, manufacturers have more freedom. Therefore, you need to always check the composition to see if it suits your requirements. Each supplement with this name may have been formulated slightly differently.

What is ZMA and ZMB?

What are the effects of the substances contained in ZMA or ZMB?

As it so happens, the effect of a complex supplement is based on the properties of the individual substances contained, i.e. zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. The synergy and interdependence of these micronutrients may play a role, but without a good foundation, even a house would not stand. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6.

1. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that the body cannot produce on its own. For this reason, you need to ingest it regularly through a varied and balanced diet or supplements. It is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Many of these are related to sports performance and the overall vitality of the body. [4]

1. Supports the production and maintenance of healthy testosterone levels

The amount of zinc in the body affects the level of the hormone testosterone. It affects the conversion of cholesterol and other substances from which testosterone is formed in the body. Optimal levels of this hormone are then important for male sexual health, fertility, libido and sperm production. It also plays a role in muscle size and strength, which has it nominated as one of the main anabolic hormones.

However, testosterone is also found naturally in the female body. Of course, to a much lesser extent. In their case, it affects the maintenance of strong bones, the function of the ovaries and, as in the case of their male counterparts, influences the desire for sex (libido). Thus, sufficient zinc intake should not be underestimated by men or women. [5]

If you are wondering what problems a testosterone deficiency can cause in the body, read our article 10 Signs of Testosterone Deficiency – What Causes It and How to Address It? 

What effects does zinc have?

2. Supports macronutrient metabolism

Zinc is also involved in the conversion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy and other substances useful to the body. It is thus involved in ensuring that the nutrients ingested from food are used as efficiently as possible. For example, for building and repairing muscle mass, regenerating the body after sports performance and other normal bodily processes. At the same time, it also contributes to the proper formation of proteins, which are then used in the body as building materials where they are needed.

3. Supports proper immune function

An athlete’s immune system often takes a beating, especially during and after intense exercise. Zinc is one of the main substances that can help protect against potential illness. It plays an important role not only in the proper development of the immune system, but also in its function. For example, it supports the activity of white blood cells, which have the ability to fight against viruses and bacteria. In addition, it also helps to protect cells from oxidative stress. Therefore, it functions as an antioxidant. [5]

What are some other effects of zinc?

  • It promotes the division and formation of new cells, which then form tissue such as muscle mass.
  • It contributes to the maintenance of normal cognitive functions such as memory, thinking or concentration.
  • It helps maintain the condition of bones, hair, nails and skin.
  • Contributes to maintaining normal vision.
  • It helps maintain the acid-base balance of the body. [6]

How do you know if you have a zinc deficiency?

You can tell if you are deficient in zinc by the results of a blood test that your doctor performs. However, the most common symptoms include reduced performance, lack of energy, impaired sexual health or poor quality of hair, nails and skin.

To learn more about zinc, read our comprehensive article Zinc: What Is It Good For, What Causes Deficiency, and What Are the Best Sources.

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2. Magnesium

Like zinc, magnesium is an essential mineral that is involved in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. These are related not only to the maintenance of overall health, but also to athletic performance. Therefore, many active people cannot afford to be without supplementation of this substance.

1. Supports sports performance

Adequate magnesium, or magnesia is essential for proper muscle function in the first instance. For this reason, a lack of this substance can lead to unpleasant muscle cramps.

It is also involved in the metabolism of all nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats), which are a source of energy for the muscles and the whole body. It also contributes to the normal transmission of signals between muscles and nerves, which is important when you lift heavy weights or need to make a quick movement immediately. To make the list complete, you can’t forget to support bone health and the effect of magnesium on reducing fatigue and exhaustion. [7–11]

2. Helps with sleep and relaxation

Sleep is important not only for the regeneration of physical and mental strength, but especially for maintaining your overall health. This can also be supported with sufficient magnesium. It can calm your mind and body. This is mainly due to magnesium’s ability to increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which has relaxing effects. It can also help to relax tired muscles, which contributes to an overall reduction in the feeling of tension, which in turn makes it easier and quicker to fall asleep. [12–13]

If you’re wondering what sleep has an impact on, check out our article Sleep: The Most Effective Booster and Fat Burner.

Effect of magnesium on sleep

3. Promotes proper mental function and stress management

Mental well-being is one of the fundamental pillars of your health. When you feel at ease, it probably reflects in your athletic performance or success in losing weight or building muscle mass. An adequate intake of magnesium is one of the factors that help to maintain a calm mind. First of all, it supports nerve signal transmission and also regulates neurotransmitters that affect brain function. These include glutamate, which can activate brain functions, or GABA, which has the opposite effect, i.e. a relaxing effect. [14]

What are some other effects of magnesium?

  • It supports the maintenance of electrolyte balance in the body. Proper concentration of ions (sodium, potassium) is important for heart function and proper hydration.
  • It plays a role in the process of cell division.
  • Supports the maintenance of dental health.
  • Involved in the formation of protein. [15]

How do you know if you have a magnesium deficiency?

Magnesium deficiency is best detected by a blood test. However, it can also be recognised by certain symptoms such as known muscle cramps, nervousness, irritability, poor sleep or inability to concentrate.

If you want to learn more about magnesium, read this comprehensive article Cramps, Fatigue, Irritability or Sleep. What Other Effects Does Magnesium Have?

What effects does magnesium have?

3. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine, is involved in more than 100 enzymatic reactions in the body that produce important neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin and dopamine. As a result, it has a number of similar effects as does magnesium.

It supports, for example, the proper function of the nervous system, mental activity and also helps to reduce fatigue and exhaustion. Together with zinc, it has a common effect on the normal function of the immune system. It thus enhances the effect of the ZMA or ZMB complex as a whole, and adds other benefits as well. [16]

1. Supports sports performance

In the context of athletic performance, it is worth mentioning, for example, the support of protein and glycogen metabolism, which is the main source of energy stored for movement. It is also involved in the regulation of hormonal activity, including the activity of testosterone and other anabolic hormones.

2. Promotes the absorption of zinc and magnesium in the body

Vitamin B6 has another role in ZMA or ZMB6. It helps with the proper absorption and therefore utilisation of zinc and magnesium in the body. It is involved, for example, in the transport of these minerals into the cells, where they can then perform their function. [16–17]

3. How do you know if you have a vitamin B6 deficiency?

Vitamin B6 deficiency can manifest similarly to a magnesium deficiency. Common symptoms include insomnia, nervousness or irritability.

If you are also interested in the effect of other vitamins, you can find all the information you need in our article The Complete Guide to Vitamins: What Are They for, How to Spot a Deficiency and How Much to Take?

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The effects of ZMA or ZMB complex

When the individual effects of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 are combined, you get a functional complex that can help you in many areas of daily life. However, the greatest effect can be seen in the case of a deficiency of these substances in your diet (limited energy intake during weight loss, little variety of foods in the diet) or in the case of an increased need in athletes or people with a demanding lifestyle in general.

1. Supporting healthy levels of testosterone and other hormones

As you already know, sufficient zinc intake is essential for maintaining optimal testosterone levels. Besides that, it is also involved in the production of growth hormone or IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor), which together with testosterone are among the main anabolic hormones. However, it is also one of the key substances involved in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine) into the active form T3 (triiodothyronine). This hormone is closely related to both healthy energy metabolism and thermoregulation.[27]

Vitamin B6 is also involved in regulating the activity of important hormones. These include male and female sex hormones, the sleep hormone melatonin, and also thyroid hormones.[28–29]

However, researchers have also found a link between magnesium and testosterone levels. For men with low testosterone levels who also lack magnesium, supplementation with this mineral may help boost testosterone production.[26]

Last but not least, the combination of magnesium and zinc can have a positive effect on reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has catabolic effects (the process by which muscle protein breaks down). Thus, ZMA will help you with comprehensive care of your hormonal health, which is essential for the proper function of the whole body. [36]

What can you combine ZMA or ZMB with for maximum effect?

You can also support optimal testosterone levels with a variety of other supplements, often referred to as testoboosters.

  • Tribulus Terrestris: An extract of caltrop that is used in the care of hormonal health and muscle mass.
  • D-Aspartic Acid (DAA): An amino acid involved in the production of growth hormone and testosterone.
  • Fenugreek: A plant extract containing steroidal saponins that are used in testosterone and libido care.
  • AlphaMale Testobooster: A complex of vitamins, minerals, adaptogens and herbal extracts designed to support men’s health.
  • Ashwagandha: It is one of the more popular adaptogens and research shows that it can also support optimal hormonal balance.
Effect of ZMA on testosterone

2. Supports sports performance

We mentioned above that magnesium in particular supports athletic performance through various mechanisms. It contributes to proper muscle function, bone health, energy production and also to good sleep, which is crucial for recovery. In an athlete’s body, magnesium does not know where to leap first. In addition, it is also lost from the body through sweat, so supplementation of this substance is more than necessary for active people.

However, when perspiring, you also lose zinc, which has an indirect effect on sports performance. As a part of red blood cells, it is involved in the removal of carbon dioxide to the lungs, which get rid of this substance. This is important during physical activity to maintain the balance between supplying oxygen to the muscles and removing carbon dioxide waste. This is especially important when we want to maintain performance, for example during running and other aerobic activities. However, zinc deficiency could also compromise strength performance due to possible lower testosterone or IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) levels. [25]

Thus, strength and endurance athletes and all other active individuals can benefit from the properties of ZMA.

What can you combine ZMA or ZMB with for maximum effect?

In addition to these minerals, there are a number of other supplements that can help you perform better.

  • Pre-workout: A complex pre-workout that gets you pumped up before exercise, helps with blood circulation and burning fat for energy.
  • Creatine: It supports the recovery of ATP, which is the energy source for working muscles. Thanks to this, it increases physical performance during intense exercise.
  • Sports drinks: A complex of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals ideal during endurance activity. It provides energy and replenishes electrolytes for proper hydration and muscle function.
  • FuePerform: All-in-one blend to support athletic performance with creatine, zinc, citrulline and other functional ingredients.
ZMA and sports performace

3. Proper mental function and stress management

During mentally challenging times, your body uses more magnesium than normal. This is mainly due to stress hormones that increase the use of this mineral, which can then lead to a deficiency. Magnesium deficiency is then associated with impaired stress management. And so you are caught in a vicious circle.

Therefore, during periods of stressful exams, increased work pressure or when you feel more tense for any reason, it is recommended to increase your magnesium intake either through food or supplements. Vitamin B6 is often added to this, as it also has an effect on the body’s adaptation to stress. According to some studies, it even optimises the body’s use of magnesium. This synergistic combination has also been found to alleviate mood swings, nervousness, irritability and other symptoms experienced by women experiencing pre menstrual syndrome (PMS). [18–19]

However, zinc can also have an indirect effect on psychological well-being. A deficiency is associated with a higher risk of depression and leads to impaired testosterone production. Reduced levels of this hormone can lead to a low mood, especially in men. [20]

During challenging times, the ZMA complex can be an effective way to manage things a little easier.

What can you combine ZMA or ZMB with for maximum effect?

You can also combine ZMA with other supplements that have a beneficial effect on the psyche.

  • Adaptogens: Substances that help to cope with increased mental and physical stress. These include rhodiola rosea, ginseng or ashwagandha.
  • L-tryptophan: An amino acid that is important for the production of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter.
  • L-theanine: Is yet another amino acid with a relaxing effect, commonly found in green tea.

To learn more about what can help you manage stress better, read our article Why is Stress Dangerous for You and How Can You Reduce It?

ZMA and its effect on sleep

4. A more restful and better quality sleep

The combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 can also help you sleep better. This is primarily due to the relaxing effect of magnesium on the nervous system. Vitamin B6, in turn, can reduce night waking, according to some research, thus promoting a continuous and restful sleep. In addition, it makes serotonin, which is needed for the production of melatonin, the well-known sleep hormone. However, according to studies, you’ll also appreciate the combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 if you suffer from restless leg syndrome, which is one of the common causes behind trouble falling asleep. [21–22]

Zinc may also be beneficial in this regard. In fact, researchers have found that eating a meal high in this mineral helped study participants fall asleep faster and sleep better. [23]

If you have trouble falling asleep or wake up during the night, regular supplementation of this trio of micronutrients may be one way to improve this.

What can you combine ZMA or ZMB with for maximum effect?

You can also support having an undisturbed sleep with other supplements.

  • GABA: It is one of the inhibitory neurotransmitters that can reduce nerve activity. It helps to induce a sense of calm and relaxation.
  • Glycine: Studies have shown that this amino acid can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve sleep quality. [24]
  • Lemon balm: A functional herb that is used in the management of sleep and relaxation.
  • Sleep & Relax: A complex designed for restful sleep. Contains magnesium, vitamin B6, plant extracts and other functional ingredients.

If you are wondering what else you can do to get a better night’s sleep, read our article How to Improve Your Sleep and How It Affects Your Health and Muscle Growth?

ZMA and its effect on sleep

5. Supports immune function

We have already mentioned that a sufficient intake of both zinc and vitamin B6 is essential for your body’s protective shield. These micronutrients support immune cell function. They are tasked with finding and destroying dangerous particles that enter your body. However, an adequate intake of both zinc and vitamin B6 is important even when illness breaks out. For example, it can reduce the length or severity of viral illnesses. In addition, zinc promotes wound healing and vitamin B6 is anti-inflammatory. [5, 30–31]

The immune system takes a beating, especially in people who train hard, engage in long endurance activities, are under a lot of mental stress or follow a strict diet. It is for these people that ZMA can help replenish substances that support the body’s defences.

What can you combine ZMA or ZMB with for maximum effect?

You can also support a healthy immune system with other vitamins and functional substances.

  • Vitamin C: Contributes to the maintenance of normal immune function during intense exercise.
  • Vitamin D: Especially in the absence of sunlight, this vitamin can be lacking, which then leads to weakened immunity.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: They are a source of the healthy fats EPA and DHA, which support the function of the brain, heart and eyesight.
  • Vitality Complex: Contains the most important vitamins, minerals and plant extracts that help with care of the immune system.

If you’re wondering what else can help you boost your immune system, read our article 15 Ways to Boost Your Immune System and Protect Your Health. 

Effect of ZMA on immunity

6. Other effects of ZMA and ZMB

The ZMA complex or the individual substances it contains have also been studied in other areas. However, these effects are not yet proven.

  • Weight loss: Obese people who took 30 mg of zinc daily lost slightly more weight in a month than study participants without supplementation. [32]
  • Muscle growth: In addition to supporting anabolic hormones, zinc can also act directly on muscle building. In fact, scientists have found that it has an effect on muscle cell activation and growth. As a result, it may contribute to the actual formation and regeneration of muscle mass. [35]
  • Blood sugar level control: According to some studies, taking zinc and magnesium can support the function of the hormone insulin and maintain more stable blood sugar levels. [33–34]

How should you take ZMA and ZMB?

ZMA or ZMB6 supplements are an option to conveniently take all 3 substances, i.e. zinc, magnesium a vitamin B6 in one supplement. Each product has its own recommended dosage and usage, which may vary slightly between manufacturers.

However, most recommend taking a dose of ZMA 30-60 minutes before sleep. However, beware of taking it together with supplements or food containing calcium, which can impair zinc absorption. [29]

Does ZMA or ZMB have any side effects?

No adverse effects have been observed in healthy people when recommended use is followed. However, beware of combining it with other dietary supplements, since in ZMA, depending on the specific product, you are likely to be consuming the daily dose of zinc, magnesium or vitamin B6.

What should you remember?

ZMA or ZMB6 is a supplement with a wide range of effects that will be appreciated by everyone, especially athletes. Thanks to its zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6 content, it supports the maintenance of healthy testosterone levels, sports performance, but also quality sleep and immune function. For maximum effect, this supplement should be taken before bedtime.

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Sources:

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[17] Seelig, M. S. Auto-immune complications of D-penicillamine—A possible result of zinc and magnesium depletion and of pyridoxine inactivation. – https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.1982.10718989

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[19] De Souza, M. C., Walker, A. F., Robinson, P. A., & Bolland, K. A synergistic effect of a daily supplement for 1 month of 200 mg magnesium plus 50 mg vitamin B6 for the relief of anxiety-related premenstrual symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, crossover study. – https://doi.org/10.1089/152460900318623

[20] Examine. 5 nutrients that could lift your mood. – https://examine.com/articles/5-nutrients-to-lift-mood/

[21] Jadidi, A., Rezaei Ashtiani, A., Khanmohamadi Hezaveh, A., & Aghaepour, S. M. Therapeutic effects of magnesium and vitamin B6 in alleviating the symptoms of restless legs syndrome: A randomized controlled clinical trial. – https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-022-03814-8

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[24] Kawai, N., Sakai, N., Okuro, M., Karakawa, S., Tsuneyoshi, Y., Kawasaki, N., Takeda, T., Bannai, M., & Nishino, S. The Sleep-Promoting and Hypothermic Effects of Glycine are Mediated by NMDA Receptors in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus. – https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2014.326

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[30] Kumrungsee, T., Zhang, P., Chartkul, M., Yanaka, N., & Kato, N. Potential Role of Vitamin B6 in Ameliorating the Severity of COVID-19 and Its Complications. – https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2020.562051

[31] Mikkelsen, K., Dargahi, N., Fraser, S., & Apostolopoulos, V. High-Dose Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Displays Strong Anti-Inflammatory Properties in Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated Monocytes. – https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines11092578

[32] L, P., A, O., M, M., Y, K. B., N, F., M, A. J., & S, M. Effects of zinc supplementation on the anthropometric measurements, lipid profiles and fasting blood glucose in the healthy obese adults. – https://doi.org/10.5681/apb.2013.027

[33] Morais, J. B. S., Severo, J. S., de Alencar, G. R. R., de Oliveira, A. R. S., Cruz, K. J. C., Marreiro, D. do N., Freitas, B. de J. E. S. de A., de Carvalho, C. M. R., Martins, M. do C. de C. E., & Frota, K. de M. G. Effect of magnesium supplementation on insulin resistance in humans: A systematic review. – https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2017.01.009

[34] Jayawardena, R., Ranasinghe, P., Galappatthy, P., Malkanthi, R., Constantine, G., & Katulanda, P. Effects of zinc supplementation on diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. – https://doi.org/10.1186/1758-5996-4-13

[35] Hernández-Camacho, J. D., Vicente-García, C., Parsons, D. S., & Navas-Enamorado, I. Zinc at the crossroads of exercise and proteostasis. – https://doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2020.101529

[36] Effects of a novel zinc-magnesium formulation on hormones and strength – https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288406212_Effects_of_a_novel_zinc-magnesium_formulation_on_hormones_and_strength

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