Today, there are thousands of natural and herbal supplements available. People use them to improve, enhance, and even help treat one’s physical and mental health. Many supplements come from the native plants of countries all over the globe, the maca being one of them.
We will take an in-depth look at the maca plant and discuss some of the most common maca root benefits. So that you can make a confident and well-informed decision about using the supplement for your health.
An Up-Close Look At Maca Root
Maca, or Lepidium meyenii, is often known as Peruvian Ginseng. It is a native crop that grows and thrives at the high elevation in the Andes. Additionally, it is a root vegetable and part of the Brassicaceae family.
Its relatives are the radishes, horseradish, and other cruciferous vegetables. Like beets, cabbage, and broccoli. At first glance, maca root may be mistaken as a turnip or radish.
The roots are white, yellow, red, and black with yellow being one of the most common. Also, its edible roots are about one to three inches in diameter.
Maca roots have a distinct flavor. They are often described as a sweet radish (or butterscotch mixed with radish).
The cultivation of the maca root dates back to about 2000 years ago. Some experts even believe that it was grown and harvested in 1600 BC.
Maca root crops were likely to be much larger, and extend to other parts of South America. Yet today, most maca crops are in places with high elevation.
The maca root is now growing in popularity particularly for its health benefits. It is now making a comeback, and there is more concern about the longevity of the crop.
As a matter of fact, three decades ago, the maca plant was on the brink of extinction.
Today, most people use and consume maca root powder, which is a ground and dried root. Although some consume it in a capsule form or even as a liquid.
People also sometimes eat the leaves of the maca plant. However, since the leaves are small and scarce, the root is the most popular part of the plant to consume.
Nutritional Profile Of Maca Root
Before we start talking a look at maca root benefits, let’s take a quick look at the nutritional profile of the maca root. The nutritional information one ounce (28 grams) of maca root powder includes:
Vitamin C: 133 percent of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI)
Vitamin B6: 15 percent of RDI
Copper: 85 percent of RDI
Iron: 23 percent of RDI
Potassium: 16 percent of RDI
Manganese: 10 percent of RDI
Protein: 4 grams
Carbs: 20 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Fat: 1 gram
Consuming Maca For Your Health: Maca Root Benefits
Maca root has an impressive nutritional profile for about two teaspoons worth of dried powder. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Here too are ten more well-researched health benefits of the root.
Enhancing Your Mood and Energy
While maca root may help boost the mood of anyone feeling the negative effects of too much stress. The root is particularly beneficial to women going through menopause who experience depression and anxiety.
Some studies suggest that maca may also help improve energy and stamina. More energy can help improve one’s mood and even reduce symptoms of depression.
Help One’s Ability To Keep New Information and Improve Memory
Maca root, mainly black maca, may improve overall brain function. It helps the brain in retaining new information and improves memory.
Some research suggests that black maca root is beneficial to boosting the memory and improving the ability to learn in rodents.
A Libido Boost For Women and Men
For women and men who struggle with a weakened sex drive, maca root may help restore a healthy libido.
Four clinical studies had good results. The studies reveal that 131 participants experienced an increase in their sex drive after consuming maca for at least six weeks.
Alleviate Some Symptoms of Menopause
As we mentioned above, maca may play a role in improving the mood of women who are going through menopause.
Some women experience hot flushes, poor sleep, and vaginal dryness. This is because their estrogen levels decline during menopause. A drop in estrogen may also increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Research suggests that maca roots may alleviate common, yet unpleasant symptoms related to menopause. It is also found to reduce the risk of the deterioration of bone.
Balance Estrogen Levels
Since menopausal women naturally experience estrogen imbalance, symptoms of menopause may vary from one woman to the next. In addition to alleviating some symptoms, maca may help balance estrogen levels. Which are responsible for the “severity” of symptoms.
Increase Fertility in Men
Many factors may contribute towards male infertility and the quality and quantity of sperm. Research suggests that maca root may improve the quality of semen in fertile and infertile men.
Helps To Protect Skin
Maca is not intended to replace sunscreen. However, it may help protect the skin from dangerous UV rays when applied to the skin. Limited research on mice reveals that applying the leaves of yellow, red, and black maca helped to protect the skin from sunburn.
Improve Athletic Performance
Similar to keeping energy levels high and boosting mood. Maca may help athletes with endurance and improve their overall performance. All without taking stimulant or a supplement that makes one feel “jittery.”
Boost Immune System
Due to its nutritional profile, which is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Taking a maca supplement may help boost one’s immune system and keep it running smoothly and more efficiently.
Prevent Chronic and Life-Threatening Diseases
We know little of how maca benefits the immune system with its antioxidant properties.
On preventing chronic and life-threatening diseases like:
and certain cancers
More research is still needed with maca.
Using Maca Supplements to get Maca Root Benefits
Now you know that maca root benefits have a variety of health benefits. Likewise, it’s important to understand how to get the most out of the supplement. As we mentioned earlier, the most popular form of maca root is in a powder form, but it’s also available as a liquid.
Many maca root users add the powder to smoothies, hot cereal, or baked goods. Although others prefer to take it as a capsule. The recommended supplement may vary depending on your needs. Regardless, the standard recommended dose is 1,500 to 3,000 mg per day.
The standard dose for maca is 1,500-3,000mg.
You may find maca root extract, powder, or supplements at your local health food store. If not, there’s a large selection of options at various online marketplaces.
Tips For Selecting A Supplement
As with all types of supplements, it’s important to buy a supplement where the labeling directions are clear. And also where the doses seem to be safe and within the recommended amounts.
Try to purchase a supplement that is manufactured in a facility that follows GMP when possible. Furthermore, make sure that you understand any additional ingredients that may be added to the supplement.
Maca root is also known by other names. Which is also important to keep in mind when looking for a supplement that suits your needs:
If you are unsure about a maca root supplement, talk to an expert in person (such as at a health store). Or you can also do a little extra research and read online peer reviews.
With so many options on the market, you will need to take some time to narrow down your choices. And make sure to choose wisely. If a supplement seems questionable or if you don’t feel confident about taking it, don’t use it.
Some Precautions To Consider
Even though maca root is a relatively safe supplement, it is not a thoroughly researched supplement. As with all supplements that are deemed safe, it’s important to exercise caution.
Before using maca root, talk with your doctor and see what dose is best for you. If you have any health issues or are taking supplements or medications, you should also discuss them with your doctor before incorporating maca root into your daily routine.
Due to insufficient information, women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid using a maca root supplement. Women who have estrogen-sensitive conditions like breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer should avoid maca root. Women with endometriosis or uterine fibroids should also steer clear of the supplement.
Men and women with thyroid issues should talk with their doctor about taking maca root and discuss safer alternatives.
There are no known side effects or interactions with taking maca root (especially in healthy individuals). However, it’s still important to keep track of anything that seems “off” or out of the ordinary. If extreme changes occur, contact your doctor as soon as possible.