If there was something you could take each day to improve your mood, boost your immunity, and maintain your overall health—wouldn’t you seize the opportunity with both hands?
Those are just some of the health benefits of maca root.
Maca plant—scientifically known as lepidium meyenii—is used mainly for its edible root, which has been historically used for its powerful medicinal properties.
This resilient cruciferous plant grows in harsh conditions above 13,000 feet in the Andes of central Peru.
The Peruvian ginseng, as maca root is sometimes known, is an incredibly nutritious superfood full of protein, fiber, and plenty vitamins and minerals to support all body systems.
It contains 20 amino acids, including eight essential amino acids, as well as fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, iron, potassium, manganese, and many others.
So how does maca root work?
The maca plant is part of a group of plants known as adaptogens—healing plants which balance, restore, and protect the body.
Much of its beneficial work on the body can be attributed to hormone balance— bringing a person back to homeostasis.
There is no greater teacher than history— history shows us boundless benefits from consuming maca root daily.
So what are the benefits of maca root?
Read on to find out!
How to Supplement with Maca Root
As with any health supplement ingredient, there are a variety of ways in which you can get your fix of maca root.
While it’s easy to think that it doesn’t make a difference what form of maca root you take, each type of supplement comes with its own pros and cons.
What makes a maca root powder supplement worthwhile might not be applicable to consuming the plant in capsule form.
As such, we’re going to briefly go over the best ways to supplement with maca root so that you have a clear idea of the differences before you make a purchase.
Powdered maca is a popular way to ingest the plant, likely because it’s so versatile and can be mixed into many healthy foods and drinks.
One of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to health supplements is introducing them into your diet seamlessly. If you can’t stand the thought of taking a particular supplement, then sooner or later you’re going to skip a day or forget to take it.
Since this defeats the whole purpose of buying a health supplement, it’s in your best interest to invest the type of supplement that will work best for you. That means it needs to be at the bare minimum tolerable, and perhaps even tasty if you’re lucky.
With powders, once you’ve blended them into a smoothie or stirred them into your morning porridge bowl, you will sufficiently mask the flavor and get all the benefits of maca root without dreading taking it.
This is unlike hard capsules and tablets, which although convenient, can be difficult to take for many people. There’s a reason why the expression ‘tough pill to swallow’ came about, and we’re willing to bet it’s related to people’s fear and dislike of medicating with capsules, pills, and tablets.
Powders can also have a higher concentration of the main ingredient than other forms of supplementation, which is why they’re the most popular choice for protein powders.
The main downside to powders is that there is a level of effort involved, so you will have to make sure you have the time to mix them into your food and drink every day. They can also be more tricky to transport than small containers of capsules and pills, so that’s another factor to consider – especially if you travel a lot.
Then there’s the taste.
Having a flavor is both a blessing and a curse for powdered supplements.
On the one hand, if it tastes every bit like earthy maca root, it might not be very appetizing to add to your blueberry and chocolate porridge bowl. Yet the benefit of powders is that they can be flavored, so brands can cleverly disguise the flavor of the ingredient, though this also means that a significant amount of sugar is added too.
Capsules are the other main way to supplement with maca root.
By far the best part of taking maca root in capsule form is that it’s simply a case of washing it down with a swig of water and you’re done.
This is a much more simple process than you get with powdered supplements, and this simplification frees up more time in your morning to go about your business.
Capsules are also more portable than powders, since they come in convenient bottles or containers that you can easily pack down into a backpack or even a jacket pocket if space is at a premium.
The other benefit of having smaller containers is that you’ll have an easy time putting them away. There’s nothing worse than having several large bags or tubs of powder fighting for space in the kitchen cupboard, since they take up so much room.
Plus, capsules are flavor-free which means you don’t need to know what the maca root plant actually tastes like. This is one of the main issues of powdered supplements, since whether you like it or not you’re going to taste the ingredient to some degree and that’s not always a good thing. Not many people would willingly add an earthy ingredient to a fruit-based smoothie, but in the name of health it’s a necessary sacrifice.
With capsules, you get a delayed release of the maca root too, which means you don’t have to worry about rushing to the bathroom or experiencing stomach irritation straight away. Since the process is slow and gentle, it’s a lot less harsh on the body.
If you want the main takeaways from the capsule vs powdered supplement debate, here goes:
Capsules are best if you have a busy lifestyle and need to take a supplement on your way out of the door first thing with minimal effort. They are more convenient, portable, and easy to store. Yet they can be hard to swallow for some, and less potent than powders.
Powders are best if you don’t mind taking the time out to add the supplement to a healthy shake or bowl of porridge. They are generally more potent, and allow you to control your dosage more precisely. However, sometimes they can be unappatesing and they aren’t as convenient as capsules.
Benefits of Maca Root
Maca root is full of health benefits, and it’s worth getting acquainted with all of them so you know what changes to look out for when you supplement with it.
So this guide is for anyone who’s ever asked: what does maca do?
1. Boosts Fertility
Since maca root balances hormones, it may treat infertility due to conditions related to hormone imbalance.
Women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — a condition that affects a woman’s hormone levels and may result in infertility — may find that their symptoms improve with maca root.
It can balance estrogen levels which are either too high or too low, and may restore ovulation, which is often scarce in women with severe forms of PCOS.
The maca root can boost fertility in women by balancing hormones, and it can improve fertility in men by increasing sperm quality and quantity.
A 2003 study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that alcoholic maca extract had positive effects on testicular function, though the study was conducted on rats.
A more recent study, published in 2015, concluded that maca root supplementation possesses fertility properties in men by increasing sperm concentration and motility.
2. Increases Libido
Historically, maca root was used as an aphrodisiac for its powerful enhancement of sexual desire.
It may be especially beneficial for people on selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)– or antidepressants commonly known to induce sexual dysfunction.
A study on the effectiveness of maca root in improving sexual dysfunction in women on SSRIs found the supplement to be effective, alleviating SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.
Maca root was also found to improve sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women.
It may reduce psychological symptoms related to sexual dysfunction including anxiety, depression, and low libido.
Furthermore, maca root may increase sexual desire in the average adult male and female, independent of their hormone levels and other medical conditions.
3. Relieves Symptoms of Menopause
Menopause is usually accompanied by a number of uncomfortable symptoms which may include hot flashes, chills, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and weight gain.
During menopause, estrogen levels plummet, triggering all of the symptoms mentioned above.
Maca root balances hormones, thus cushioning the body’s changes and reactions, and relieving many of the symptoms associated with menopause. Certain studies have shown that taking a maca root supplement can provide relief from some menopause symptoms.
After menopause, many women experience a decline in bone density and bone health. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women over the age of 65 has osteoporosis— weakening and fragility of the bones.
Turns out, maca root may have a positive effect on bone health, preserving bone strength, which is especially important in postmenopausal women.
4. Maintains Prostate Health
It is not uncommon for older men to experience problems related to enlarged prostate— also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
Symptoms of enlarged prostate include a weak or slow urinary stream, incomplete bladder emptying, difficulty starting urination, frequent urination, and straining to urinate. These symptoms can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you are waking up frequently throughout the night to use the bathroom.
Studies show that maca root may reduce prostate size in men with BPH, alleviating symptoms relating to enlarged prostate.
Maca root may also contain substances which reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
5. Boosts Energy
Maca is known to increase energy levels in those who regularly consume it. This may be due to its ability to balance hormone and blood sugar levels.
It also contains a lot of important nutrients which are vital in maintaining energy levels, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids.
Even athletes and bodybuilders use maca root to increase strength and endurance, and boost energy.
6. Improves Mood
Many people reported feeling uplifted, more driven, and a greater overall sense of wellbeing when taking Maca root supplements. Maca can reduce anxiety and depression, especially in menopausal women.
People who suffer from mood swings and depression due to hormone imbalance can benefit from maca root supplements.
7. Supports Memory
Maca root may have neuroprotective effects— meaning that it protects and improves brain function. It may slow the progression of age-related cognitive decline in diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Black maca may even improve memory in those who already suffer from memory impairment.
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A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle
Maca is available in many forms— powder, capsules, pills, flour, liquor, and as maca extract— it has become one of the Peruvian flag products, with millions of dollars in exports every year (33 million to USD in 2015 alone).
Maca root can be found in most health food stores, and it can be ordered online.
It is best to find a quality harvester with guaranteed 100% maca root products.
Maca powder can easily be added to your food— put it in a shake, a bowl of oatmeal, or add it to your favorite dessert.
The recommended usage is 500-3000 mg per day, and it must be ingested regularly to gain from its health benefits.
Maca root has not been tested for safety during pregnancy, so best to avoid it if you are expecting.
Have you experienced the benefits of maca root? Have you ever tried maca tablets or powders? Let us know in the comments below!