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ZMA and Muscle Cramps: Can It Help Prevent Cramping? - Genetic Nutrition

ZMA and Muscle Cramps: Can It Help Prevent Cramping?

, by Genetic Nutrition, 6 min reading time


Muscle cramps and spasms are very common, and anyone who exercises, runs, or even does any form of sports would have experienced this at one point or another. Such painful contractions can cause a lot of discomfort and slow you down or even affect your performance. Despite simple measures such as drinking enough water or stretching, the mineral supplements Zinc, Magnesium aspartate and Vitamin B6, known as ZMA, might be of aid. Now, let us take a closer look at the available literature regarding the effectiveness of ZMA for cramp relief.

Why Do We Get Muscle Cramps While Exercising?

There is still no certainty as to what actually leads to the development of muscle cramps during exercises, and this forms one of the areas that specialists have not been able to point out clearly. This can be because of Electrolyte disturbances, muscle weakness and nerve involvement, kidney failure and various other medical conditions made worse by dehydration. The term cramp or spasm can be defined as a situation in which muscles contract forcibly and rapidly or more rigorously. It is regarded as harmless muscle cramps that usually affect the calf, thigh, or foot muscles most of the time.

In What Detail Could ZMA Aid in Alleviating Muscle Cramping?

ZMA is described as a blend of zinc monomethionine aspartate, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6. Some research indicates that ZMA may reduce muscle cramps and spasms because:

  • Muscle repair and protein synthesis are achieved through foods rich in zinc and the proper functioning of nerves and muscles by magnesium. Both of them may assist in preventing the onset of muscle fatigue.
  • It influences electrolyte status and water balance, so it can avoid the factors that cause cramps.
  • B6 works synergistically with zinc and magnesium to better assist the body.

Altogether, these mechanisms of action theoretically justify the utilisation of ZMA for the prevention of ZMA cramps and the stimulation of performance in exercise. But does this equally find its support in clinical research? Now, let me provide some examples of the work that was conducted in the field.

Specific ZMA Research Relating to Exercise Performance and Muscle Cramps

To the researcher’s knowledge, no research investigates ZMA and muscle cramps solely. The majority of studies examine the effects of ZMA and its possible benefits for enhancing the capacity of individuals to perform during exercise. Some findings related to cramping include:

  • Research done using the European Journal of Applied Physiology had subjects take in a ZMA supplement or placebo for off-season baseball training for eight weeks. Nevertheless, even though ZMA failed to enhance power output, the supplement group complained less about muscle cramps as compared to the placebo group.
  • A recent work published in “Current Therapeutic Research” examined the effect of ZMA on the players during the spring training football session for 7 weeks. Comparing it with the placebo, the ZMA group showed increased power and endurance parameters. Also, more specifically, the ZMA group indicated that they rarely encountered muscle cramping after having to endure severe muscle cramping before the actual study began.

Although these study samples are limited, albeit small, some preliminary evidence for ZMA’s effectiveness in curbing exercise-induced muscle cramping can be inferred from the results. However, further affirmative observations concerning the direct cramp prevention capacity of ZMA are still required, as is more substantial, focused research.


One may conclude current evidence suggests that ZMA cramp prevention can be effective in minimising exercise-induced muscle cramps after an appreciable period of supplementation in combination with training. The energy may increase power and endurance while avoiding factors resulting in cramps like imbalanced electrolytes, nerve disorders and muscle exhaustion. However, further, more meaningful research is still required on the effectiveness of ZMA in directly preventing cramping episodes. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before using any new supplement, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or if you have an existing medical condition. Although further research is currently being conducted, ZMA is actually a low risk in terms of supplementation as it has the potential to assist in workout performance and prevent nasty muscle spasms.


  1. When is the best time to consume ZMA supplements?

Studies show that consuming ZMA supplements approximately half an hour to one hour before sleeping on an empty stomach or with milk (since calcium interferes with the absorption of the supplements) ensures that the supplements are effectively assimilated in the body.

  1. How much time does it take approximately to heal muscle cramps after implementing ZMA supplements?

The study’s participants reported fewer muscle cramps within 6-8 weeks of implementing ZMA supplements alongside training. Effects can vary depending on diet, genes, the intensity of the exercise and other such items.

  1. Can I experience any negative effects or complications if I consume ZMA?

While ZMA has been reported to cause certain side effects, these are mostly likely to occur when the supplement is taken in large doses that are way above the recommended quantities indicated on the supplement labels. Side effects that have been linked to the use of ZMA include effects on the gastrointestinal tract, such as nausea and stomach discomfort, nervousness, headache, or insomnia because zinc and magnesium influence the central nervous system. Some of the ways in which you may think about how you can interact with your doctor are as follows.

  1. Can women take ZMA?

Yes, regenerative ZMA supplements can positively affect men and women who often suffer from muscular cramps during training. Nevertheless, ZMA should not be taken by pregnant women except when they receive their doctor’s permission because the requirements for vitamins and minerals are higher during pregnancy. Individuals with pre-existing health conditions also should seek medical advice before partaking in a match.

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