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ZMST – Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium and Taurine

What is the Difference between ZMST and ZMA?

ZMST by ATP Science contains Zinc and Magnesium as does ZMA, but also contains the essential co-factor, Selenium. The enzymes that use zinc and magnesium, as well as the functional actions enhanced by their supplementation, need Selenium. If there is a selenium deficiency they cannot function properly and ZMA, for example, cannot work as planned. Selenium, Magnesium, Taurine and Zinc deficiency is very common and is a cause for a lot of metabolic defects today.


Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, and Taurine (ZMST) are essential nutrients. Because of our modern lifestyles, these nutrients are often deficient in the Western Diet and have been depleted from our soils and not found in adequate levels in our foods.
Ingredients per capsule:
– Magnesium Citrate (100mg elemental Magnesium).
– Zinc gluconate (2.5mg elemental Zinc).
– Organic Selenium yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (6.25mcg elemental selenium).
– Taurine 25mg.

QTY: Take 1-3 capsules.
How often: 1-3 times per day.
Note: Your rate of absorption is proportional to your body magnesium levels.
For example: If your body levels are low, then absorption is enhanced.
If your body levels are fine or high then absorption slows down.
If you take more than you need the magnesium drags water into your intestine and creates loose watery stools or diarrhea.

Should you suspect a deficiency, you can take up to 3 ZMST capsules 3 times daily. As your levels increase your absorption slows down and you get watery loose stools as an indicator. If or when this happens to reduce your dose to 2 and then 1 capsule 3 times daily. Long term taking 1 to 3 capsules of ZMST daily will maintain healthy magnesium levels.

Magnesium Basics – Back to School!

Magnesium (Mg2+) is the second most abundant intracellular mineral, after potassium, and is the fourth most abundant cation (positively charged ion) in the human body. This essential mineral is needed for a broad variety of physiological and biochemical functions.

Enzyme production
As a co-factor in more than 300 enzymatic reactions, which often depend on energy production (yes ATP), Mg2+ is involved in many biochemical pathways of key importance, including:

    • Breakdown of macronutrients.
    • Oxidative Phosphorylation.
    • DNA and protein synthesis.
  • Neuro-muscular excitability.
  • Regulation of parathyroid hormone secretion.      

So, almost every time you break something down to raw materials and building blocks or build something new in your body there is a requirement for magnesium to allow action that to happen. Just to put a simple spin on it.

Dosing of Magnesium and its absorption

Smaller Dose = Better Absorption.
Here’s Why: With a minimum recommended the daily intake of 370 mg, the absorption rate of Mg2+ in the intestine ranges from 30-50%. However, the efficiency of Mg2+ uptake is dependent on the ingested dose and your internal levels.

When your body is deficient you absorb more and as your levels build up absorption slows down. For example studies with a low dietary Mg2+ intake showed that the relative absorption rate can reach 80%, whereas it is reduced to 20% with Mg2+ oversupplies. This again confirms we need multiple, smaller dosages over the day for great Mg2+ absorption. Otherwise, you overload your gut and reduce absorption and create a gut upset. So, don’t be fooled by claims of mega-magnesium dosage or massive once a day doses or claims of superior absorption to allow for higher doses as Mg 2+ doesn’t work that way.

Intestinal Magnesium Absorption and Influencing Factors

Intestinal Mg2+ absorption occurs predominantly in the small intestine and smaller amounts are absorbed in the colon. In humans, Mg2+ absorption starts approximately 1 h after oral intake, reaches a plateau after 2-2.5 h up to 4-5 h and then declines. At 6 h, the Mg2+ absorption is approximately 80% complete. Thus, taking multiple, small doses is preferable over one large dose.

Oxalates and Phytates Reduce Magnesium Absorption
Many of our healthy foods contain oxalates, such as beets, spinach, almonds, sweet potatoes and many more. And some people also have a gut microbiome that generates excessive oxalic acid from healthy foods. Magnesium actually binds to these oxalates in our intestines to make magnesium oxalate crystals.

While this can inhibit Magnesium bioavailability, it is also a good thing as this is one of the important functions of magnesium as a build-up of oxalates in your body can create signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency. such as:

  • Twitching.
  • Cramping.
  • Restlessness.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Insomnia and cramping.

In many cases where people believe they are correcting the signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency, they are actually correcting the symptoms of oxalate overload by stripping oxalates from their system. Some people find if they take magnesium on an empty stomach, they can’t tolerate the dose so they take it with meals and it no longer causes loose stools, this is because it is binding to the oxalates in our foods and not drawing in the water to create the loose stools.

Oxalate Pro Tip: If you have issues with excessive oxalates take magnesium before and with meals to bind to it and strip it out.
Absorption Pro Tip: If you want to load your system with magnesium and get it out of your gut and into your body take it away from foods rich in oxalates include Spinach, Bran flakes, Rhubarb, Beets, Potato, Nuts, and nut butter.

Similar scenario with phytates from cereals and grains. They also bind and inhibit magnesium absorption and combining magnesium with phytates will reduce the symptoms of an overdose but also result in reduced magnesium bioavailability.


Can magnesium be taken with other minerals such as zinc and selenium?

Early studies reported that increasing calcium in the diet significantly depressed Mg2+ absorption. The same depressive effect on Mg2+ absorption was shown with excess:

  • Phosphorus.
  • Iron.
  • Copper.
  • Manganese.
  • zinc.

However, in these studies, un-physiological (super-high) doses of the minerals were used. When these substances are consumed within a physiological range, such as present in a regular diet or ZMST there is no inhibition.

Does Zinc Inhibit Magnesium Absorption?

In an earlier study, researchers compared the absorption of magnesium when individuals were supplemented with zinc. Individuals were either given a control diet, or supplemented with a massive 142mg of zinc today. It took this level of zinc to cause a magnesium absorption inhibitory effect. Thus, the level of zinc in ZMST (2.5mg per capsule) won’t significantly impact negatively on magnesium absorption.
Thus, taking magnesium with healthy levels of zinc and selenium will not negatively impact on the absorption of magnesium, especially if the magnesium is in the magnesium citrate form.

When to take magnesium, zinc and selenium?
As mentioned, magnesium absorption is affected by many factors. Below are the details of research into this but the take-home message is the following:

  1. Protein and soluble fiber increase the absorption of these minerals and thus, a meal consisting of meat and veg is the best time to optimize absorption.
  2. Taking magnesium in the evening helps to relax the body (more details on that later) so again, the evening seems the best time.
  3. Take magnesium and zinc away from phytic acid. Phytic acid (mostly found in grains) blocks the absorption of magnesium and zinc
  4. Oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of magnesium. Thus, a meal containing plants rich in oxalic acid (such as spinach and kale) inhibits the absorption magnesium
  5. Taking magnesium and zinc on an empty stomach reduces binding to oxalates and phytates and this is a good way of ensuring good availability. 

Magnesium Citrate – What is it good for?

Magnesium citrate is around 15% magnesium and 85% citrate. It is not just a ‘magnesium’ supplement. The great thing about this form is that the ‘citrate’ has beneficial effects on the body also.
Citrate forms of minerals aid in:

  • Flushing toxins.
  • Alkalising the body.
  • Binding and eliminating oxalate crystals.
  • Contributes to the citric acid/ Kreb’s cycle, which is our cellular energy production pathway.
  • Magnesium citrate is well absorbed.
  • Magnesium Citrate is better absorbed than other organic magnesium supplements tested. Also, your absorption may also be increased if you are deficient in magnesium.

Below is a chart comparing the absorption of different forms of magnesium

Type Of Magnesium % Of Elemental Magnesium Bioavailability
Oxide 604
Carbonate 4530
Hydroxide 4210
Citrate 1619
Glycinate 1880
Malate 6.570

Zinc Basics

The metal zinc is nowadays well known to be essential for a well-operating human body. However, knowledge about zinc homeostasis, zinc deficiency, and related diseases is comparatively new.

What Zinc does for us – 
As mentioned earlier with magnesium, the zinc and magnesium enzymes are needed almost every time you break something down to raw materials and building blocks or build something new in your body. It is a structural component in proteins and it is involved in numerous cellular functions include, but are not limited to:

  • Cell proliferation and differentiation.
  • RNA and DNA synthesis.
  • Stabilization of cell structures/membrane.
  • Redox regulation.
  • Apoptosis of cells. 

The Roles of Zinc in the Body
There are numerous roles for zinc in the human body. Zinc cannot be stored and has to be taken up via food daily to guarantee sufficient supply. A large number of especially inflammatory diseases, but also aging, pregnancy, lactation, and vegetarian or vegan lifestyles are associated with zinc deficiency. Also, like with most minerals, a crappy diet will also lead to a zinc deficiency. Zinc is especially important during periods of rapid growth, both pre and postnatally, and for tissues with rapid cellular differentiation and turnover.

Pregnancy outcomes – Reproductive Health
Zinc is essential for men and women reproductive process. For men it is essential for sperm, hormone production and libido. For women it helps a normal and healthy pregnancy.

Zinc and Immunity
As a mineral this is vital for optimal immunity and even a mild zinc deficiency impairs immunity. Zinc is essential for the Th-1 immune system that is responsible for our first line of defence to be able to function, Zinc is needed so the immune cells actually know there is an infection and that they are required to attack. This results in a host of infections that can hang around longer than they are wanted!

Physical growth
Zinc has always been known to be essential for normal health and development but the impact of zinc on growth was first described in humans in adolescent populations in Iran and Egypt. In these studies of young adults who presented with a syndrome characterized by varying degrees of growth stunting and delayed sexual maturation (hypogonadal dwarfism), treatment with zinc-induced accelerated growth and commencement of sexual maturation. It is well established now that zinc is the first place to look for any cases of failure to thrive and in those looking for enhanced growth.

Inflammation and oxidative stress
Zinc (Zn) takes part in the regulation of chronic inflammatory status through the reduction of inflammatory cytokines. It also reduces oxidative stress by participating in the synthesis of antioxidant enzymes and acts as a catalyzer of enzymes, taking part in lipid, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism.

Zinc and Insulin
This mineral is involved in the synthesis, storage, and release of insulin. Zinc is also involved in insulin signaling and deficiency can cause insulin resistance causing metabolic problems. As well as being involved in antioxidant protection that is necessary in insulin-resistant syndromes and this oxidative stress and damage can be a cause of insulin resistance creating a vicious cycle that zinc helps to break.

Zinc and Obesity
Zinc levels are often decreased in obese patients. At the same time, the decrease in serum Zinc levels is accompanied by increased urinary concentrations, being indicative of increased Zinc excretion in obesity. Low Zinc status in obesity is also associated with aggravation of obesity-related metabolic disturbances like insulin resistance, inflammation, and altered lipid profile. Again showing how Zinc can be a major deficiency that leads to a vicious cycle that needs to be broken in order to see some improvement.

The effects of zinc in the body – Recap
1. Essential trace element used by over 300 enzymes in the body
2. The adult body only contains 2 to 3 grams of zinc
3. Zinc is found in ALL parts of the body
4. 90% of body zinc is found in muscle and bones
5. High concentrations found in semen and prostate
6. Aids healthy hair, skin and nails
7. Vital for cell division such as pregnancy and normal growth and development
8. Important for fertility, sperm production, prostate health, and healthy testosterone levels
9. Zinc is essential to balance female hormones and prevent premenstrual problems
10. Essential component for the immune system
11. Controls inflammation
12. Reduces oxidative stress by making antioxidants
13. Improves insulin sensitivity

The take-home message for Zinc and metabolic diseases: 
Zinc is an essential trace element that plays a substantial role in the maintenance of a healthy body. Deficiency in this critical mineral can cause health-related problems. Zinc takes part in free radical neutralization as well as in glucose and lipid metabolism.


Magnesium and zinc need selenium to function properly.
Selenium deficiency is often the rate-limiting factor for zinc and magnesium function. Meaning if selenium is deficient the zinc and magnesium supplements can’t work properly. Selenium belongs to one of the trace elements essential for human health and life. In the body, selenium is involved in numerous beneficial health processes.

The biological functions of selenium result from the occurrence of the selenocysteine amino acid in proteins. The research has revealed that about a hundred selenoproteins can be found in our organisms. The most important of them are the antioxidant enzymes – glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin reductase, as well as selenoprotein P, responsible for the storage and transport of selenium.

How do we normally consume Selenium?
Selenium levels of the soil determine the concentrations in plant foods.

  • Brazil nuts.
  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Especially young barley seedlings.
  • Green vegetables.
  • Shiitake mushrooms and button mushrooms.

Are excellent organic sources of selenium in regions with adequate selenium content in the soil. Selenium yeast is an excellent source as well. Where yeast acts like a sponge and sucks up the selenium in the water. The yeast is then killed and not acting like a live yeast that can colonize and grow inside you but acts as a source of nutrients. Animals that consume selenium containing plant-based foods, especially, fish, seafood, beef, and poultry are good sources of selenium from areas with adequate supply.

Important to Remember: You only get adequate selenium in your diet if the soil is rich in selenium and around a billion people are deficient in the world.

Selenium Deficiency
Selenium deficiency occurs when there is an inadequate dietary intake of selenium, typically due to a scarcity of selenium sources in a given region. The American Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) daily minimum requirement of selenium for optimal biological functioning is 70 and 55 micrograms (mcg) per day for men and women, respectively, per April 2000 recommendations.

However, this level is considered low based on other studies, and some literature sets the minimum requirement at 90 mcg daily per adult.

The Symptoms of Selenium Deficiency
Symptoms of severe selenium deficiency are primarily related to heart muscles and joints. Moderate deficiency leads to:

  • Increase in infertility in men.
  • Prostate cancer.
  • Neurological diseases.
  • Manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Shortened fingers and toes.
  • Growth disorders in regions endemic to shortages in selenium in the soil should raise suspicion regarding selenium deficiency, especially in children 5 to 13 years of age.

It is the constellation of symptoms that will, unfortunately, point to making the diagnosis, as there is not a specific finding that will allow the clinician to hone in on the fact that the patient is selenium deficient.


Taurine is one of the most abundant free amino acids in mammals. It is considered a basic regulator of cell homeostasis controlling calcium and magnesium channels helping to reduce calcium influx and magnesium release from cells and subsequent excretion.

Taurine increases intracellular magnesium. 

The beneficial effects of taurine are attributed to osmoregulation (regulation of cell volume), anti-oxidant effects, anti-inflammatory, calcium modulation, cell membrane stabilization and neuromodulation (brain health) and plays an important role in the conjugation of bile acid.

Taurine holds magnesium in cells
Calcium rushes into cells to activate them or induce an action like a thought or a muscle contraction. Magnesium is released from the cell to switch this off. Once released from cell, the magnesium can be excreted and that is one mechanism behind magnesium depletion and the end result is too many on switches (calcium influx) and not enough off switches intracellular magnesium to be released.
Taurine works with ion channels to hold magnesium in cells and preventing the calcium influx and subsequent magnesium release and loss.

The ZMST Take Home message

ZMST is an essential supplement for optimal health that most individuals will benefit from. It contains the proper ratios of key nutrients and proper therapeutic dosages of magnesium so many people are deficient in. It contains magnesium in the best form (citrate) and in divided dosages for optimal absorption. ATP Science’ ZMST can be taken long term because the dosage is optimized to reduce or eliminate any gut problems associated with some magnesium supplements.

Related Articles:

Episode 155 – Magnesium Clinical Guide – Part 1

Shop ZMST here.