What Is Maca Root, and What Does It Do?
Plant-based superfoods are the most nutritious and powerful foods available. These foods are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and healthy fats, and they provide numerous nutritional benefits. Maca root is one such nutrient-dense superfood that is also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Maca, a root vegetable grown at high elevations in Peru, has been used for its restorative properties since ancient times. It may have a variety of health benefits, including improving memory and concentration, increasing energy and stamina, and increasing muscle mass and strength. It’s also said to help with hormonal imbalances and boost libido. Although little is known about how maca works, anecdotal evidence of its benefits abounds. This article delves into what maca is, how it can help you, and its side effects, among other things.
What Exactly Is Maca?
Maca is a Peruvian plant that grows on the Andes mountains’ high plateaus. It’s scientific name is Lepidium meyenii, and it’s made from the root of a cruciferous vegetable like cabbage, broccoli, and kale. People in the Andes have been using the root as a food supplement and traditional medicine for millennia.
The edible part of the maca plant, the root, resembles a cross between a radish and a parsnip. It is available in a variety of colors, including yellow, black, and purple. It’s usually taken as a powder, but it’s also available in liquid extract and capsule form.
Some people dislike maca because of its earthy, nutty flavor. As a result, many users disguise the flavor by adding it to smoothies, shakes, and juice. It’s also popular as an ingredient in coffee, chocolate, and oils, according to some. The whole maca root is sometimes added to oatmeal and soup in Peru, roasted and eaten as a vegetable, or fermented into a tasty drink called “maca chica.”
Vitamins from Maca Root
What is it about maca that makes it so healthy? It is considered a superfood because it contains important nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and fiber. It’s a good source of carbohydrates, protein, and fat from a nutritional standpoint.
More than 20 amino acids are found in maca, which the body uses to help build and repair muscle. As a result, maca root may be beneficial to people who regularly exercise.
Here’s a quick rundown of what an ounce of maca root powder can do for you:
- Vitamin C intake is 133 percent of the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake).
- 15 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6
- Iron is present in 23% of the RDI.
- Coppe’s RDI was 85 percent.
- Manganese at 10% of the recommended daily intake
- Potassium at 16 percent of the RDI
- 1 gram of saturated fat
- 2 g dietary fiber and 4 g protein
- carbohydrates (20 grams)
- Calories: 91
- Maca root is a highly useful supplement because it contains so many vitamins and minerals while being low in fat and calories.
Benefits of Maca Root
Because maca contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals, it may be beneficial to immune health and general well-being. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the potential maca benefits.
Libido has increased.
Men who took between 1500mg and 3000mg of maca daily had more sex drive than those who took a placebo, according to a 2002 study.
In a 2010 review of the relationship between maca use and sexual activity, evidence was found to suggest that maca may increase libido. According to the authors, more research is required. While maca is frequently linked to increased libido in men, it may also have a similar effect in women.
Male Fertility Has Improved
Several studies have discovered that maca can aid in the production of better sperm by promoting higher sperm counts and overall healthier sperm. Nine healthy men were included in one of the studies. Researchers noticed an increase in sperm count, volume, and motility after four months of using maca.
As a result, incorporating maca into a daily routine may be beneficial for couples who are trying to conceive.
Getting Rid of Menopause Symptoms
It’s widely thought that maca can help balance estrogen, the hormone that controls the female reproductive system. Estrogen levels are unstable during menopause transition (the time leading up to menopause), causing a variety of symptoms.
According to a 2006 study, postmenopausal women who took two maca tablets daily had fewer symptoms like night sweats, mood swings, and hot flushes.
According to a 2015 study published in Climacteric, maca may aid in the treatment of depression in postmenopausal women. For six weeks, the women who took part in the study ate either maca or a placebo. The women who took maca had significantly lower depression and diastolic blood pressure than those who were given a placebo, according to the study.
Hormone levels (FSH, TSH, SHBG, and estradiol), lipids, glucose, and serum cytokines were all found to be unaffected.
Maca root is an adaptogen, a type of herb that aids the body’s adaptation to stress. Adaptogens help people manage stress by supporting the body’s systems, particularly the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems. As an adaptogen, maca may help to support the endocrine system, which is in charge of producing hormones that control metabolism, sleep, and mood.
Women who take maca may notice more stable moods and sleep patterns due to a balanced endocrine system, which means fewer fluctuations in these hormones.
Muscle Growth & Sports Performance with Maca Root
Because it is high in bioactive proteins that promote natural muscle growth, maca has been linked to impressive muscle-building properties. Because maca roots contain 18% protein, they are a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. Maca may help with energy and exercise performance in addition to muscle strength. Maca, for example, was found to improve the swimming endurance capacity of rats in a 2012 study.
In addition, a small study of eight male cyclists found that after two weeks of maca use, the cyclists were able to complete a nearly 25-mile bike ride faster than before they started using the root. However, no scientific evidence exists to support claims that maca increases muscle mass or strength.
Uses of Maca Root
The above is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of maca extract’s potential benefits and applications. It also has a connection to the following:
- Increased levels of energy
- Bone health protection (especially in women after menopause as they are at a higher risk of osteoporosis)
- Improving learning and memory by reducing the impact of the sun’s UV rays on the skin
- Prostate size is smaller.
- Blood pressure reduction
- Free radicals must be defeated.
One of the best aspects of maca root extract is how simple it is to incorporate into one’s diet. Here’s a quick maca powder smoothie recipe:
- 150 mL (dairy, almond, or soy) milk
- A banana is a fruit.
- protein powder (scoop)
- strawberries, a handful
- cocoa powder (two teaspoons)
- powdered maca root
Other adaptogens are also good to add to smoothies if you’re looking for more healthy ingredients. Mesquite, crushed pearl powder, and reishi mushroom powder or capsules are among them. The latter is the most well-known, as it is widely available from companies like VidaCap.
The amount of maca you should use is determined by your requirements. Here’s a quick rundown of the recommended consumption level.
What Is the Appropriate Maca Dose?
The proper maca root dosage is determined by a number of factors, including the user’s age, health, and other factors. There is currently insufficient scientific evidence to determine the optimal maca dose. The maca root powder dosage used in studies, on the other hand, is typically between 1500mg and 5000mg per day.
However, if you don’t take more than 3000mg of maca per day for up to four months, it’s considered safe as a food or supplement. More tests are needed, however, to see if it can harm children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with kidney or liver disease, as well as at what dosage.
Please keep in mind that the quality and active ingredients in maca supplements can vary greatly. As a result, because there are so many variables at play, there is no standard dosage.
What Maca Supplements Are Available?
Peruvians traditionally dry maca by hand, boil it, and drink the juice. These days, however, maca pills and powder are available. Let’s take a look at both options, as well as a major debate that’s raging among maca vendors.
If you’re looking for a way to save money, maca powder is a good option. It is, on the whole, less expensive and allows you to try out new recipes. If you can get past the taste, it’s a great supplement to add to food, shakes, and other cool recipes. We recommend avoiding products that contain soy, wheat, egg, milk, shellfish, or other common allergens. Bulk Supplements and Now Supplements are two brands that check this box.
In the world of maca, there is currently a heated debate. The product should never be sold raw, according to gelatinized maca powder vendors. It is, after all, traditionally cooked before consumption. Raw maca is said to be made up of complex starches that are difficult for the human digestive system to break down.
It also has a high concentration of enzymes that prevent food from being broken down and assimilated. As a result, nutrient absorption from the food we eat is hampered.
Gelatinized maca powder is said to have a sweeter, smoother, and less bitter taste than raw maca. Maca that has been ‘gelatinized’ does not contain gelatin. It’s just the name of the cooking method that involves heating and pressurizing the roots to break down their starch content before grinding. Finally, compared to raw maca, this form contains more iron, zinc, and calcium.
In other words, the healthiest maca root is gelatinized and comes from Peru. Raw maca sellers, on the other hand, claim that their product contains more nutrients!
There are also maca root pills available for those who don’t want to taste maca. These pills can be taken like any other daily health supplements or vitamins.
One of the most appealing features of maca capsules is how simple they are to use. You don’t have to include them in your meals or drinks. Instead, take the pills with a glass of water and you’ll be fine. In addition, you know how much maca is in each capsule. Maca pills are sold by Solaray and Sunfood, among others. You can also look for more brands on websites like allstarhealth.com.
Keep your eyes peeled for the presence of maca in certain supplements. Global Healing, for example, sells Androtrex, a supplement that includes maca, ginseng, and ashwagandha, among other ingredients. It’s made to help men maintain a healthy hormonal balance and have a healthy sexual response.
You must again decide whether or not the maca powder in the capsules should be gelatinized. Make sure there are no preservatives, additives, or fillers on the ingredient list. It’s also a good idea to buy maca from companies that offer third-party lab testing. Finally, look for products that have been certified by one of the following organizations: NSF International Consumer Labs is a subsidiary of the United States Pharmacopeial Convention.
Side Effects of Maca Root
Maca root has not been linked to any health risks in most people, and it is unlikely that you will experience any side effects when using it in moderate doses. Black and red maca extracts were found to be well-tolerated and safe in a study published in Pharmaceuticals in 2016.
People with thyroid issues, on the other hand, should avoid maca because of its hormone-related effects. Maca contains goitrogens, which are compounds that can interfere with the thyroid gland’s normal function.
Furthermore, the effects of maca on hormone levels are poorly understood. Maca, for example, has been shown in some studies to have no effect on sex hormones. However, animal studies have found elevated levels of progesterone, testosterone, and luteinizing hormone.
Finally, anyone with hormone-sensitive conditions like uterine fibroids, breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer, or endometriosis should consult with a doctor before taking maca.
Despite being used for thousands of years, maca is a fascinating product that is only now becoming well-known. It comes in raw and gelatinized forms, as well as capsules and powder. Maca has been shown to improve libido, mood, endurance, and fertility. However, maca research is still in its infancy, and there is little evidence to back up these claims.
To determine the precise maca root benefits and how effective the results are, researchers will need to conduct more extensive and larger-scale human studies. Although there are a few potential risks associated with taking maca, it appears that the majority of people can safely consume the supplement.