What Is Maca Root
The Maca root is derived from the Maca plant, or scientifically known as Lepidium meyenii. The plant is native to the Peruvian terrain and can be found thriving in high altitude. The root of the Maca plant contains vast medicinal properties and earned the nickname, ‘Peruvian Ginseng’.
The people in the region has been growing Maca root for as long as 3,000 years. It is distinguished by its radish-like shape and belongs to the same family of vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and kale. It was both used in food and medicinal purposes. The root of the plant is often turned to powder and consumed to replenish the energy of an individual.
Maca root also enjoys the reputation as a natural libido enhancer, as it is believed to increase sex drive and fertility in men. Made from roots that vary in color (white to black), maca root powder produces a nutty and earthy flavor which some may deem unpleasant. (1)
Nutritional Values Of Maca Root
As one of the top superfoods, maca root is rich in nutrition. Here’s a glance at what maca root powder could offer to your body in a single serving of 1 oz. (2)
- Calories – 91 grams
- Protein – 4 grams
- Carbohydrates: 20 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 79.8 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.1 mg
- Niacin: 1.6 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.3 mg
- Calcium: 70.0 mg
- Iron: 4.1 mg
- Potassium: 560 mg
- Sodium: 5 mg
- Copper: 1.7 mg
- Manganese: 0.2 mg
You’ll get a fair share of Vitamin C and much-needed fuel from the carb when you take maca root powder. It also replenishes some of the minerals like calcium and iron that are essential for body functions.
Health Benefits Of Maca Root
Maca root has much to offer to your health. Here are some reasons why you may want to make maca part of your daily supplement.
1. May Reduce Depression
Taking maca root helps you to cope with stress better as it is a wonderful adaptogenic plant. Being an adaptogen means it enables your body to stabilize the physiological process in response to stress. It regulates stress hormone so that you won’t have an excessive amount of cortisol on your body.
While more research is needed to be done in this respect, one study positively links maca root to the reduction of depressive symptoms. In a randomized, double-blind study conducted by the Victoria University of Australia, post-menopausal women prescribed with maca over 12 weeks have reported being less depressed.
2. Improves Libido
Under work stress or age, you’ll find that libido is waning and it may affect your relationship. Maca powder is prized for being able to restore the libido in both men and women. A study published in 2002 has established the direct link of taking maca root and the increase in sexual desire.
3. Helps With Fertility
Children are indeed a gift in life and maca can be of assistance. Men with issues of low sperm count stand the chance of overcoming the problem by taking maca root powder. A study conducted in the Czech Republic confirms the ability of maca in aiding fertility.
4. Boost Stamina And Endurance
If you’re a fan of working out, you know that having some additional stamina gives you an edge in the gym. Early studies on maca have found it to be a great source of strength and endurance to boost your exercise routine.
5. Reduce Menopausal Symptoms
Women going through menopause tend to experience some uncomfortable symptoms as the body reduces the production of estrogen. As such, you could be experiencing symptoms like hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, and sleep disorder. There are some evidence that suggests taking maca can reduce symptoms related to menopause.
6. May Improve Cognitive Performance
It’s undeniable that age dulls our learning and memory capacity. Instead of a free-fall, taking maca root may improve cognitive performance. It has been traditionally taken by students in Peru and a study on an animal model has specifically pointed out black maca as a natural booster for memory and learning.
7. Protect Skin From UV Exposure
Getting exposed to the sun not only wrinkles your skin, but it may also increase the risk of skin cancer. You can apply a layer of natural protection on the skin with extracts of maca root. A study of applying maca on mice shows strong evidence of its ability of UV protection.
8. Reduce Prostate Size
Men usually suffer from the enlargement of the prostate gland, also known as BPH as they age. Taking red maca is associated with reducing the prostate size and subsequently the risk of developing prostate cancer. A study on rat has been conducted with an encouraging result.
How To Take Maca Root Supplements
As maca is a dietary supplement, there is no regulated dosage on the amount that you could take. However, that doesn’t mean that more is better as it does affect the hormone in your body. A rule of thumb is not exceeding 5 grams of maca root powder a day. (3)
Maca root powder is generally available in powder or liquid extract form and that gives you the flexibility of how you want to take the supplement. You can take maca root as capsules or you can mix the powder in smoothies, juices, energy bars or your favorite oat breakfast.
If you want to reap the maximum benefits from maca powder, you’ll want to take it on an empty stomach in the morning. That will give it ample time to be absorbed and starts boosting your energy. For the same reason, you’ll want to avoid taking it in the evening as it may affect your sleep cycle.
It’s also a great idea to follow the recommendations suggested by the manufacturer.
How Long Does It Take For Maca Roots To Be Effective
You may not notice any difference during the first few days when you start taking maca supplements. Rather than declaring that it is not effective, you should continue taking it for at least 2 weeks. That’s the average time for you to feel the benefits from maca root. Sometimes, certain individuals may take longer for any positive experience.
Precautions And Side Effects Of Maca Root Supplements
For such a powerful supplement, maca root is surprisingly gentle on most people. If the advice of Peruvian is to be heeded, you should only take boiled maca root and not fresh from the plant. There are hardly any side effects reported by the common users when taken as a supplement.
But that doesn’t mean it is safe for everyone. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should refrain from taking maca root as there is insufficient information on the safety in such usage.
The same applies to individuals experiencing hormone-sensitive complications such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine fibroids, and endometriosis. The extracts from the maca root may produce the same effect as estrogen and aggravate the conditions.
Those who are suffering from thyroid problems should also avoid taking maca roots. (4)
Where To Buy Maca Root Supplements
With its popularity, you’ll have no problems buying maca root in local supermarkets, health stores, or pharmacies. Maca root is not sold as a medicine and you don’t need a prescription for it. You can also purchase maca supplements online from the producers or retailers like Amazon. It saves you the hassle of commuting to the stores.
Here are our top picks of the best maca root supplements on the market.