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NOW ZMA Review
“ZMA is a synergistic combination of Zinc and Magnesium designed to maximize absorption and promote recovery from exercise.”
This beginning to NOW Foods’ statement about their ZMA product reiterates the acclaimed benefits of taking a ZMA supplement.
But what’s so great about NOW ZMA in particular? Let’s take a closer look.
What Is ZMA?
ZMA supplements like NOW ZMA are a combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
ZMA was invented by Victor Conte, who is infamous for running the doping programs for several professional athletes, including Olympian Marion Jones.
Like Conte’s programs, ZMA is a bit controversial. Though perfectly legal and safe, ZMA is popular among users but has not found to be effective in studies. It supposedly aids muscle growth and recovery and improves athletic training. However, one study shows that no differences were observed in strength or endurance in athletes who took ZMA supplements. 
Some say ZMA raises testosterone, but it hasn’t been proven to work. In fact, one study found that it has no effect on testosterone levels. 
What’s Special About NOW ZMA?
As most ZMA supplements are similar, the main thing NOW ZMA has to recommend it above the rest is that it’s cheap. It’s only $11.74 on Amazon.com, and available for under $25.00 at many locations including SupplementWarehouse.com, Total Health Vitamin, and Pothek.
What’s in NOW ZMA?
As I mentioned, NOW ZMA contains zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Let’s look closer at these ingredients and determine whether NOW ZMA has the right amount of each.
Zinc. Zinc is an essential mineral that is often used to treat the common cold. It’s needed in many functions in the body, including cellular metabolism, immune function, and protein synthesis.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for zinc in adults older than 19 years is 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females. NOW ZMA contains 15 mg of zinc, or a 750% daily value.
So can too much zinc be a bad thing? Perhaps. More than 40 mg can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. But the amount of zinc in NOW ZMA doesn’t approach that number.
Magnesium. Magnesium is found inside tissue cells, organs, and bone. It maintains muscle and nerve function and supports more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
The RDA for magnesium is 400 for males and 310 for females ages 19 to 30; it’s also 420 for males and 320 for females over 31. More than 50% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium from their diets.
However, more than 350 mg of magnesium could cause kidney failure, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping in some users. NOW ZMA has a whopping 450 mg magnesium, or an 113% daily value.
Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is involved in many enzyme reactions, including protein metabolism.
The RDA is 1.3 mg for ages 19 to 50; for those over 51, it’s 1.7 mg for males and 1.5 mg for females. NOW ZMA has 30 mg, or a 200% daily value. More than 100 mg vitamin B6 could cause lesions, nausea, heartburn, or ataxia (loss of movement control).
NOW ZMA also contains a 2.4 g blend of zinc L-methionine, zinc aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and pyridoxine HCl. It looks like the blend is separate from the other ingredients. So NOW ZMA may include much more zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6 than it’s actually telling us.
What Do Users Say About NOW ZMA?
As I was a bit worried about side effects from excessive amounts, I looked at what users had to say about NOW ZMA.
Surprisingly, the response was mostly positive. 47 out of 79 people on Amazon.com gave it 5/5 stars. Many people mentioned it helped them sleep better and others said that it helped them recover from their workouts.
Runner2183 said: “This product is amazing! I am an avid runner and not only does this brand of ZMA help me recover from long runs and weight training days much faster, my sleep has improved dramatically!”
Most people who didn’t like NOW ZMA didn’t seem to experience side effects. It just didn’t work for them.
Ernesto Estanislao said: “Pretty much useless, Didn’t do what its suppose to. No better sleep, no faster recovery after workouts, I wished it did. Really wanted it to work.”
While some said ZMA helped them sleep better, others experienced restlessness and lack of sleep. Most did not experience increased testosterone levels.
NOW ZMA: The Bottom Line
NOW ZMA might work for you, and it might not. It all depends on what your body needs. If you’re set on trying ZMA, though, NOW ZMA is at least an inexpensive option. But if you’re looking to raise testosterone levels, look elsewhere.
 Colin D. Wilborn; Chad M. Kerksick; Bill I. Campbell; Lem W. Taylor; Brandon M. Marcello; Christopher J. Rasmussen; Mike C. Greenwood; Anthony Almada; Richard B. Kreider. “Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2004; 1 (12-20). Available from: http://www.jissn.com/content/1/2/12
 K. Koehler; MK Parr; H Geyer; J Mester; W Schanzer. “Serum testosterone and urinary excretion of steroid hormone metabolites after administration of a high-dose zinc supplement.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009; 63: 65-70. Available from: http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v63/n1/abs/1602899a.html