Magnesium and zinc are two minerals that have been studied for their potential role in boosting testosterone levels. Testosterone, also known as the male hormone, is important for the development of muscle mass and bone density, as well as maintaining adequate levels of red blood cells and providing a sense of well-being. Zinc and magnesium have been formulated into dietary supplements, known as ZMA, with the goal of boosting free testosterone levels. While zinc and magnesium may play roles in testosterone production, most research has shown that supplementing with ZMA does not increase testosterone levels.
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Roles of Testosterone
Testosterone is present in both men and women, although it is found in much greater quantities in men. This hormone plays important roles in sexual health and reproductive function. Men with low testosterone are commonly affected by erectile dysfunction, low energy and decreases in muscle mass, among other symptoms. Increases in testosterone can add lean body mass, while decreasing fat mass. ZMA has been proposed as a natural alternative to testosterone-replacement therapy.
Magnesium and Testosterone
Magnesium is a mineral that is vital to every organ in the body, particularly the heart, muscles and kidneys. While magnesium is present in many foods, University of Maryland Medical Center notes that most Americans lack sufficient amounts of magnesium in their diet. According to a study published in 2011 in "Biological Trace Element Research," magnesium may play an important role in testosterone production. The study found that supplementation with magnesium was able to increase total free testosterone in both athletes and sedentary individuals, although athletes saw greater increases.
Zinc and Testosterone
Zinc is a mineral involved in cellular metabolism and it is necessary for immune function, wound healing, protein synthesis and cell division. Because the body is unable to store zinc, a daily supply must be consumed though diet or supplementation. A study published in 1996 in "Nutrition" found that zinc does play an important role in regulating testosterone levels. However, the study focused on individuals with zinc deficiencies. According to the study, men who do not consume enough dietary zinc may benefit most from using zinc supplements.
Various studies have investigated the claim that zinc and magnesium, when combined, can increase free testosterone levels. A study published in 2004 in "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" found that ZMA supplementation did not enhance strength or testosterone levels in trained individuals. Another study, published in 2009 in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition," also found that ZMA had no significant effect on testosterone levels in individuals who consumed a zinc-deficient diet.
- Cleveland Clinic: Testosterone Replacement Therapy
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
- Biological Trace Element Research: Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and After Exhaustion
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Nutrition: Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: Effects of Zinc Magnesium Aspartate (ZMA) Supplementation on Training Adaptations and Markers of Anabolism and Catabolism
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Serum Testosterone and Urinary Excretion of Steroid Hormone Metabolites after Administration of a High-dose Zinc Supplement
- Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: Testosterone Action on Skeletal Muscle