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A–Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance: Part 46
  1. P A Deuster1,
  2. A B Hodgson2,
  3. S J Stear3,
  4. L M Burke4,
  5. L M Castell5
  1. 1Consortium for Health and Military Performance, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  2. 2School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Performance Influencers Limited, London, UK
  4. 4Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  5. 5Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to L M Castell, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6HG, UK, lindy.castell{at}

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Introductory remarks

The concluding alphabetical part of our series, part 46, deals with just two topics for the letter ‘Z’. One of these, zinc monomethionine aspartate (ZMA), is a derivative of the other well-known supplement, zinc (Zn). Zn is widely used by both athletes and the general population.


PA Deuster

The essential trace mineral Zn serves multiple biological functions—catalytic, structural, regulatory and substrate1—in support of metabolic, endocrine, signal transduction, cellular control, protein stabilisation and immune networks/pathways.1 ,2 Overall, approximately 3000 Zn proteins are encoded in the human genome1 and Zn is a cofactor to more than 300 enzymes; these include superoxide dismutase, alkaline phosphatase and alcohol dehydrogenase, in the liver, and carbonic anhydrase III, AMP deaminase and the matrix metalloproteinases, in skeletal muscle. As one of the most widely distributed metals in the body, 85% of Zn resides in muscle and bones, 11% in skin and the liver and the remainder in all the other tissues.2 This clearly demonstrates the overall importance of Zn and would suggest that it may be important in physical performance. The best food sources of Zn are oysters, wheat germ, liver, beef, melon, squash seeds and cocoa.

Improvement in physical performance or aspects of physical performance by administration of Zn can be demonstrated in one of three ways: (1) showing that providing Zn to persons who are Zn deficient restores/improves performance, (2) demonstrating that providing Zn to healthy individuals with adequate Zn status improves some aspect of performance or (3) showing that Zn supplementation counters a particular health risk that could compromise performance. Performance improvement in …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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