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ZMA Side Effects

The Side Effects of ZMA

ZMA is becoming increasingly popular as a testosterone and muscle building supplement. But what harm is doing to your body? Let’s examine ZMA side effects by going through each ingredient: zinc, magnesium aspartate, and vitamin B6.

Zinc Side Effects

In studies examining zinc’s effects on the common the cold there are reports of unpleasant taste, abdominal cramping, and taste distortion.[1] Other common zinc side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol[1]

Additionally, zinc toxicity from excessive zinc intake (150-450 mg per day) can cause chronic effects such as low copper status, altered iron function, and reduced immune function.[2]

Furthermore, zinc nasal sprays are considered controversial. According to some experts, zinc nasal sprays reduce cold symptoms, but other studies suggest it has no positive effect and may worsen existing conditions.[3]

Magnesium Aspartate Side Effects

Common side effects resulting from excessive magnesium intake (more than 350 mg per day) include nausea and abdominal cramping.[4] Rare side effects from magnesium toxicity include:

  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Flushing
  • Muscle paralysis
  • Troubled breathing[5]

Those with diminished kidney function are at a higher risk for magnesium toxicity, as kidneys filter excess magnesium.[6] Magnesium toxicity also contributes to hypotension, lethargy, confusion, and disturbances in normal cardiac rhythm.[6]

Vitamin B6 Side Effects

The tolerable upper safe limit for vitamin B6 is 100 mg daily for adults.[7] Avoid taking more than 200 mg vitamin B6 daily to reduce side effect risk.[8]

Reported effects from excessive vitamin B6 ingestion include:

  • Arrythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
  • Skin reactions
  • Gastrointestinal effects (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain)
  • Persistent bleeding
  • Decreased serum folic acid levels[8]

Additional vitamin B6 side effects include lower blood pressure, increased bleeding risk, and lowered blood sugar levels.[8]

Some people are particularly sensitive to vitamin B6, and experience adverse effects even at low dosages.[8] However, this allergic reaction is uncommon.

Anecdotal Side Effects

Now that we know each of ZMA’s components risks, it’s time to look at ZMA as a whole.

According to Barbie Brosohart, RD and nutritional counselor, ZMA supplements are generally considered safe, and most successful ZMA products have 11 mg vitamin B6, 450 mg magnesium, and 30 mg zinc.[9] So, they typically fall under the safe and tolerable recommended amounts.

While ZMA has not been fully tested for safety, anecdotal evidence suggests ZMA poses minimal side effect risks.

Some users experience vivid dreams, fevers, and headaches when taking ZMA products, however, and these examples are provided here:

“I am deployed to Africa and I we take a weekly Malaria pill called Mefloquine. It can give you vivid dreams if taken near when you go to to sleep, but when combined with ZMA max every night I had multiple very real feeling dreams. It did make me sleepy, but the dreams are vivid and they interfere with nice relaxing sleep.” –kyle (Amazon Verified Purchase)

“I did not have a good result with this product. I added it into my regimen at a half-dose and immediately began experiencing fever headaches and fatigue that would last for days. I stopped taking it, and the headaches went away after a day or two. I waited a little bit, then began taking it again. Same deal. Fever headaches, poor sleep, and fatigue. I tried to be fair to the product, so I cycled it again with the same result. Flushed the rest of the bottle. I had read some info on BB forums before taking that listed headaches, nausea, and fatigue as side effects of a zinc overdose. I don’t know if that was the case here (though I do take a mutli containing zinc). Either way, be sure to research before taking.”-BYEDYOO (

While these effects are uncommon and could be related to the particular products users were taking, it’s important to exercise caution before consuming any ZMA supplement.


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    Comments (10)


    April 8, 2014


    I noticed that when I take zma I have irregular breathing for about two hours .has anyone else experienced this feeling?


    Johnny, yes I have taken ZMA town nights in a row now and my heart has been racing...almost like a caffeine rush. Do not love this feeling when taken before bed as recommended.

    November 5, 2014

    ZMA side effects

    Do not think I will continue taking this supplement. Not comfortable with the way I feel about 20 minutes after taking it.


    Joseph Navarre

    March 15, 2015

    ZMA usage

    I’ve been taking this supplement for 15 years. I’ve never had any issues like the comments posted above… I highly recommend it. It will give you intense dreams though.



    April 22, 2015

    Feels... gross.

    I take ZMA in the norm dose from a good brand.
    B6 10.5mg
    Mag 450mg
    zinc 30mg
    Im good for about 30minutes then the whole world feels almost “softer”;
    but in a disturbing way, not how it sounds – this includes vision and breathing.
    and i get tired, and more tired till i sleep.
    Im “aware” of my heart beat the whole time, its not confortable.

    will try a lower dose for tormorow.

    It does NOT feel good to take ZMA


    Mike Bav

    July 10, 2015

    ZMA Side Effects

    I just started taking this supplement; and I haven’t really had any side effects yet besides some good sleep, I take it right before bed and I feel fine when I wake up.



    August 21, 2015

    Next day feel groggy and general slowness

    I started taking it at the beginning of the week and by Wednesday, I thought I was coming down with the Flu. I have morning headaches up the back of my head, cannot concentrate at work,feel groggy and generally not well, like a low level flu or cold that never quite gets going.

    Killed motivation and ability to read/ study or concentrate for longer than 5 mins.

    Friday now and stopping taking it to see what happens over the weekend.

    Sleeping from 930 to 630 no problem and feeling like I could do another hour or 2.



    September 24, 2015

    So tired

    I’m exhausted, started taking it Sunday by Wednesday night I was so tired I fell asleep on the couch. Woke up after 10 hours of sleep and I’m still kinda dizzy with sleep. Started doing research since the zma is the only thing I’ve changed in the past week. Guess I’ll change the dose and see what happens, otherwise it’s going in the trash.



    October 12, 2015

    No problem

    Standard formulation, 10.5mg vitamin B, 450mg magnesium, 30mg zinc. I don’t usually sleep well, so as a student, this stuff is a godsend. I’ve been taking it before bed for a few weeks now, and the only thing even close to any of the described symptoms has been a very mild drowsiness, just enough to get me asleep.

    That said, even that drowsiness might be better described as “lack of insomnia”. For most of my life it’s taken me anywhere from a half to multiple hours to get to sleep; I wouldn’t know a normal sleep pattern if it hit me in the face screaming “I am a normal sleep pattern”. I started taking this stuff mainly because I saw that insomnia and loss of appetite were symptoms of magnesium deficiency, which I worried might be affecting my workouts; I’m happy to report that my appetite is up, and that if my recent exams are any indication, I really am learning better (poor ability to learn is another side effect). No vivid dreams; and if anything, the reduced stress due to better sleep has left me feeling more alert during the day. My best guess is that I really was deficient and that my supplementation is acceptable for my situation, though I will certainly keep in mind the fact that I’m going above daily recommended limits; I’ll keep it in mind if I suddenly start losing my bowels.


    vijay bajaj

    November 6, 2015

    severe abdomen pain

    i started seven days ago but suddenly accedity problem started which i never use to have before and as a result severe abdomen pain whole day. i stopped immidiately and i dont think i wud reccomend this to anybody….


    Mineral levels becoming dangerously high

    November 7, 2015

    I’ve been taking zma for over a year with the advice that you can’t overdose on magnesium, so took other Mag supps as well. Well… After developing sensitivity to food colourings E171 and E172 which are made from iron and titanium I got my bloods checked. My mineral levels were dangerously high. My symptoms were raised body temp, raised heart rate, hives and insomnia. New symptoms include stomach cramping and nausea. This could be a run up to hypermagnesemia which is life threatening. It’s safe to say I’ve stopped all supps. Amino acids can also attribute to this condition so I’ve even cut those out and protein powder.


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