Maca is a root that belongs to the radish family and is grown in the mountains of Peru. It’s often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng” for its ability to help increase stamina, energy, and sexual function. It’s also believed to improve fertility and help with menopausal symptoms.
Nutritionally speaking, maca is very rich in essential minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. It’s high in important vitamins, especially B12, and protein, making it an excellent supplement for vegans. Maca is also a great source of iron, helping to restore red blood cells, and making a good supplement for anemics and those with heart disease.
Health Benefits of Maca
In addition to the beenfits already mentioned, maca root has also been shown to aid in the following conditions:
Skin – Maca can help clear up acne and blemishes and may also decrease sensitivity, allowing the skin to withstand hotter or colder temperatures.
Energy – Maca can increase energy, stamina, and endurance and is used by athletes to increase their peak performance.
Women’s Health – Maca helps relieve symptoms in menstruating and menopausal women. It’s been shown to alleviate cramping, hot flashes, anxiety, and even depression. Maca is also known as an adaptogen, capable of balancing hormones naturally. It’s also been shown to promote healthy sexual libido.
Men’s Health – Maca has been shown to enhance hormone and testosterone levels, as well as improve sperm fertility. A small study showed maca to increase semen volume, sperm count, and sperm motility. It has also been shown to alleviate sexual dysfunction in both men and women who are taking medications (SSRIs) for depression.
Different Types of Maca
Maca comes in various colors, each of which has distinct potential health benefits:
Red Maca – known for its higher concentration of antioxidant properties and for better prostate health.
Yellow Maca – known for its beneficial effects on female fertility and menopausal symptoms. Yellow maca root is the maca most used by Peruvians in daily life.
Black Maca – known for its positive effects on memory, latent learning and spermatogenesis.
Raw Maca – simply a blend of red, yellow, and black maca. This option is for those who wish for a less directed, wider spectrum of benefits.
How to Take Maca: Dosage and Precautions
Maca comes in powder, liquid, or pill form. The powder can be added to smoothies, juices, shakes, yogurts, salads, and cooked foods. Just don’t add it to anything that’s too hot, otherwise it will lose it’s nutritional benefits.
There is no specific dosage for maca, as it varies depending on many factors, and different herbalists, naturopaths, and practitioners will have different guidelines. The general recommended dose will be somewhere between 300-550 mg 2-3 times per day. It is however important to start out slowly with smaller doses (about 1/4 the recommended dose) to see how your body handles it, then slowly work your way up to the full dosage.
Maca should not be used in high doses or for long periods of time. Breaks of 1 week every 3 weeks are recommended. It’s not know whether maca may have harmful effects when combined with other medications, especially for heart conditions or high blood pressure, so one should definitely use maca only under the care and guidance of a health professional. Maca should also not be used by women who are pregnant or nursing due to it’s effects on hormones.
Where to Buy Maca Products
Maca root can be found at most health food stores, like Health Planet, and online at HealthPlanetCanada.com. This month, until July 3rd, 2013, you can buy the Ecoideas Organic Yellow Maca 500g bag for just $19.93 – that’s 10% off the regular price!
Have you used maca root before? How have you incorporated into your diet? What kinds of health benefits have you enjoyed from this healthy supplement?
About the Author:
Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.