What is Maca root?
Maca is a tuber plant found in Peruvian Andes. Even though Maca is one of the most consumed supplements in recent times in the U.S, it has been popular among the local population from thousands of years.
The roots of the plant is used as a vegetable similar to radish by Peruvians. It has been labeled with things like Max strength or pure and potent while being sold as a supplement. It is a member of the Brassica family, which includes other healthy powerhouses like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Maca root is a nutritional powerhouse, providing key macro and micronutrients. It also provides unique plant compounds to support an active human body.
As far as micronutrients, Maca root is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper, and zinc. Compared to white potatoes, Maca root boasts higher levels of iron and calcium. It also contains all eight essential amino acids and plenty of phytonutrients.
Health benefits of Maca root
Maca For fertility:
A lot of studies show that maca can help with healthy sperm production by supporting higher sperm counts and healthier sperm overall. For this reason, including maca into daily routine may be helpful for couples who are trying to conceive and want to support fertility.
Maca supplements have a healthy dose of iodine, which is essential to proper hormone production. Getting more iodine may be what you need to get your hormones ready for conception without the need for actually taking estrogen or testosterone. A healthier hormonal balance is helpful even when you’re not trying to conceive, but it’s downright essential for natural pregnancy. Maca root is one of the few supplements that has been shown to have strong fertility-boosting effects in both men and women. However, there is far more research on how maca root improves male fertility than female fertility
Maca’s purported aphrodisiacal effects can help with a boost in sex drive and have sex more often. While some couples believe that waiting two to five days in between intercourse can increase the number of sperm, but this kind of practice actually decreases the chances of natural pregnancy. One has the highest chance of becoming pregnant when having intercourse daily or every other day, but that can seem impossible while one is living a busy and stressful lifestyle. Increasing sexual desire and drive makes it much easier to enjoy the act of conception rather than feeling stressed to do it. It is a natural fertility enhancer as it can increase sperm count and mobility in men.
Maca for Boosting libido:
Maca is labeled as nature’s viagra due to its ability to stimulate sexual sensation and desire. Serotonin levels in the body control the sex drive in the body and Maca root helps to reduce the serotonin levels in the body which in turn increases sexual libido. Maca root can also improve the energy levels and natural excitement for sexual activity.
There is more evidence to support the connection between maca root and fertility than the connection between maca and libido. Part of this could be because measuring changes in libido is slightly more difficult since it’s a subjective measurement that’s tied to how participants report feeling, which can be much harder to record accurately than observable measurements.
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Maca For weight loss:
Along with increased fertility and sex drive, the other positive benefits have come to light around maca, including its adaptogenic qualities. As it serves as a rich source of nutrients the chemical that is present in the roots such as alkaloids, terpenes and sterols can help with endurance and stamina. Although maca is not directly linked with weight loss its healing capabilities may help to promote a decrease in weight.
Hormone like an adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) is found to significantly decrease upon taking Maca and this hormone is responsible for weight gain and so it’s reduction in the body will result in weight loss.
It was evident that little indication of maca, by itself, will establish a high rate of weight loss. It can also help boost energy to better assist with exercise and movement so it is used as a natural supplement to treat obesity. Obesity can cause major medical conditions like Erectile dysfunction, diabetes, and heart attack so to prevent these conditions it is essential to losing weight, and for people with low stamina to workout, Maca root is an excellent choice to increase stamina to work out and lose weight.
As Maca yields natural energy-enhancing abilities it is quite helpful in avoiding fatigue. It indirectly regulates the hormone levels in the body and can control blood sugar levels too.
Maca for PCOS
PCOS is defined as Polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine disorder in women that is characterized by menstrual irregularities, raised androgen levels in the body, and small cysts on the ovaries.
As maca acts on the hypothalamus, the gland that controls a lot of functions of the body, and also the pituitary gland. These glands control the menstrual cycle and stimulation of the ovaries so Maca can minimize the effects of PCOS.
Maca root may be especially helpful to women with PCOS as they go through menopause. Maca has been shown to balance FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) and estradiol. This helps reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, trouble sleeping, depression, and sexual dysfunction in women.
Maca for Breast growth
Often Maca is used to help people gain weight and in women gaining weight eventually result in bigger breasts. As Maca balances the hormones and encourages the body to produce Estrogen, the female sex hormone which is responsible for breast growth and also helps in fat storage in areas of the body like hips and buttocks.
Maca only influences the production of estrogen whereas for the growth of breasts the combination of both estrogen and progesterone levels in the body is important.
Maca for buttocks growth
Maca acts as a catalyst in the growth of the buttocks along with regular exercising. Maca contains low calories and fat so regular consumption will not add fat to your body. Maca is considered to be natural anabolic and anabolic food helps in building muscle fiber. As buttocks contain gluteus maximus, the largest muscles in the body maca help in building these muscles with specific exercises.
As Maca helps in hormone balance in the body it supports the healthy levels of estrogen which is responsible for bigger female curves. Red and Black Maca are more effective in buttocks growth.
Maca for depression
According to a study conducted on 175 people, it has been concluded that the Maca supplementation given to the 175 participants has been shown to improve mood, reduce fatigue, and increase the overall quality of life. These results in turn suggest that Maca can be used to counter depression as improving mood and quality of life will eventually result in good mental condition.
Maca also stimulates the production of estradiol and suppresses the production of chemicals like cortisol which is a stress hormone. Sometimes depression can be triggered by a flux in the hormonal system and Maca can be an effective alternative option to treat hormonally triggered depression by significantly reducing blood pressure.
Maca for controlling blood glucose levels in the body
In obese people, the consumption of sweet food can lead to diabetes which is caused due to imbalance of blood glucose levels in the body.
According to a study conducted it has been revealed that the consumption of maca root helps in maintaining the blood glucose levels in the body. There has been a significant reduction in the levels of glucose in the blood and improved glucose tolerance among people who consumed Maca root. As glucose tolerance in the body is quite improved, it will prevent any unwanted fat accumulation in the body, thereby preventing obesity and the risk of diabetes.
Maca for balance in menopause
Maca is also known to be a huge help for women experiencing menopausal problems and issues due to hormonal imbalance. Maca actually increases the production of estrogen if the levels are too low in women. It is also linked to an increase in the levels of hormones like progesterone and luteinizing hormone ( Stimulates ovary function ) in perimenopausal and menopausal women.
Maca has been proven to reduce menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, depression, insomnia, nervousness, and night sweats.
Side effects of Maca root
The side effects of Maca are considered to be minimal and side effects start to show when the dosages are not taken as prescribed or overdosing of Maca. Different side effects of taking Maca are
As Maca is an energy booster, the increased consumption of maca root can actually cause insomnia as it fills up the body with extra stamina and energy which the body doesn’t know where and how to utilize. As Maca provides the energy, it is not suggested to take it before going to sleep as it can cause trouble sleeping.
This insomnia is often accompanied by excess sweating, an increase in the rate of heartbeat, hot flashes, and a feeling of extreme anxiety.
Hormone-sensitive people should avoid Maca as it can act as estrogen once it enters the body. Women who have hormone-sensitive conditions should also stay away from the root. If one has or had breast cancer, uterine cancer, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or ovarian cancer consulting a doctor is best before taking maca. Maca may have estrogenic qualities that could worsen these conditions by changing the levels of estrogen in the body. These extreme effects can only be due to overdosage of Maca. The recommended dosage of Maca ranges from 500 to 3000 milligrams per day.
It has also been noticed that women who take maca supplements regularly have suffered prolonged menstrual bleeding and also elevated levels of testosterone in the body.
Maca has fibrous content of about 8.5% and due to this content, it has some influence over the digestive system. When consumed in excess, these fibers actually speed up the rate of digestion which then leads to gas and diarrhea.
The gas and diarrhea issue due to Maca can give rise to a subsequent condition of dehydration. A sudden rise in the potassium levels in the body has also been noted in quite a few cases.
Among other maca side effects, a significant one seems to be the fact that when consumed with a low-iodine diet, maca root tuber can cause goiters given its high concentration of glucosinolates (a nitrogen-sulfur organic compound). A serious deficiency of Iodine usually leads to Goiter and Maca is Goitrogenic food that inhibits iodine absorption and causes deficiency of iodine in the body.
Thyroid side effects
Even though it is not proven, maca can interfere with medicines administered to thyroid patients. This is due to the fact that maca is composed of a variety of minerals, such as calcium and iron, which prevent the optimal absorption of thyroid medications. Also, 1500 mg of dried maca has a high iodine content of 78mg. This can aggravate thyroid side effects in an individual. Maca is also believed to hinder the course of antibiotic medicines inside the body.
Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding
Maca is considered to be goitrogenic foods that can inhibit the absorption of iodine. These foods can also prevent iodine from being transferred into a breastfeeding mother’s milk, a concern since iodine is certainly needed for the fast-growing infant.
Maca may help in several different ways while you’re actively trying to get pregnant. cyclists taking it for stamina noticed a marked increase in sexual desire. And the root is able to improve sperm count and quality in adult healthy men without affecting testosterone levels in one clinical trial. But while the supplement may set a couple up with the right conditions to get pregnant, women shouldn’t take maca extract or root powder once they are expecting. And maca should be avoided throughout the breastfeeding process as well.
Just like any other new supplement we take, maca may cause some allergies as it needs time to settle in the body. Some of the mild allergic reactions can be itching, insensitivity, or mild rashes on the body. More serious allergic reactions can cause hives, shortness of breath. Any of these serious reactions need medical treatment.
Maca can even lead to Anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening condition that needs emergency treatment.
Even with some of the side effects, the Maca extract is very well tolerated and safe. As it is an adaptogen, individuals who consume Maca respond well to stressors and can adapt well. It is gaining a lot of popularity among experts and athletes because of its high nutritional content such as Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc. Also because of its endocrine balancing abilities which can help in muscle gaining, it is well consumed by bodybuilders too.
We would suggest you consult with your doctor before taking Maca on a regular basis or any huge change in your diet as your doctor knows your medical history better and can suggest you accordingly.
- The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review
- Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review
- The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review
- Effects of different varieties of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized rats
- Maca Root for Curves and Buttocks Growth