Maca
Last updated: October 14, 2020

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Lepidium meyenii, also known as Peruvian ginseng or simply ‘maca,’ is an ancient crop with amazing nutritional and medicinal properties. Are you aware of what those properties are? Have you ever tried maca?

A wide range of health-promoting effects are connected with the regular consumption of maca root. Maca acts as a powerful energiser, boosts sexual function and reproductive health, prevents osteoporosis, reduces the incidence of depression and diminishes symptoms of menopause. These are just a handful of the benefits that you’ll learn about in our guide on this one-of-a-kind plant.

Key Facts

  • Maca, which originates in the Peruvian Andes, grows naturally at altitudes up to 14,400 feet above sea level. Archaeological research has shown that the maca root has been consumed by humans for nutritional and medicinal purposes since pre-Incan times.
  • This superfood has been used to improve mood, increase energy levels, enhance physical endurance, reduce anxiety, relieve menopausal symptoms and much more. According to its nutritional profile, maca contains proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin B3.
  • The root of the maca plant was initially consumed fresh or dried. Today, most users add it to their diet as a supplement in the form of capsules, powder or tablets.

Our Selection: The Best Maca Supplements on the Market

The Canadian market is filled with various maca brands, concentrations and forms, which means that picking the right supplement isn’t always a piece of cake. In this section, we’ve selected the very best maca supplements available right now, to help you make the ideal choice for your lifestyle.

The Best Maca Capsules

NaturaLife Labs is a company committed to high quality products, purity and transparency. Their organic maca capsules are Amazon’s Choice and a great option for anyone looking for a mix of black, red and yellow maca that is also free of fillers, preservatives, gluten and soy.

This product is manufactured in the US at an FDA-registered facility and tested by third party labs to ensure potency, purity and safety. Each capsule gives you 1900 mg of 100% organic Peruvian maca to support reproductive health, energy, sexual well-being and hormonal balance in your body.

The Best Maca Powder

Viva Naturals Organic Maca Powder. Grown in the rich soils of the Andes Mountains of Peru, harsh temperatures and extreme sunlight produce maca plants (Lepidium meyenii) with roots of exceptional nutritional substance and health-promoting properties. Viva Naturals carefully harvests the fully matured and developed roots when foliage is at its brightest yellow, then they are slowly dried and gently milled at low temperatures into fine, rich-tasting powder. A process known as ‘gelatinization’ breaks down starch molecules to ease digestion and enhance overall nutrient content and bioavailability.

Viva Naturals’ maca powder is gelatinized in order to improve the absorption of this renowned root. Gelatinization ensures indigestible starch is removed by applying low heat to raw maca roots, resulting in a highly absorbable powder that eliminates any digestive discomfort.

The Best Black Maca Supplement

The Maca Team´s raw organic black maca powder fresh harvest from Peru, fair trade, GMO-free, vegan and gluten free. Made from 100% black maca roots fresh from the high Andes of Peru. Considered the best maca for muscle building, stamina, mental focus, improved mood and male fertility and libido.

Favourite maca for athletes and students, providing sustained and balanced physical and mental energy. 1 LB (454 g) double sealed foil lined bag contains 50 servings at 3 tsp. per day. Your cost is 59 cents per day (3 Teaspoons).

The Best Red Maca

The Maca Team´s raw red maca root powder, certified organic, highest nutrients of all maca, fresh harvest from Peru. Made from 100% red maca roots. Has the higest phytonutrient content of all maca colours.

Studies show red maca to be the best maca for female fertility, libido and hormone balance, natural energy boosting, bone health and male prostate. 1 LB double sealed foil lined bag contains 50 servings at 3 tsp. per day. Your cost 59 cents per day (3 Teaspoons.)

Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Should Know About Maca Supplements

In this section, we answer the most common questions about maca root from buyers like you. You’ll discover even more about the properties, benefits, uses and risks of this supplement.

Maca promotes learning and supports memory.
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What exactly is maca?

This maca plant, whose scientific name is Lepidium meyenii, grows in unique conditions at incredible heights in the Peruvian Andes. Those conditions include very low temperatures, drought and intense sunlight. The part of the plant that is safe for consumption is the root (or hypocotyl), which looks like a large radish.

Several varieties of maca exist, with each identified according to the colour of its root. Yellow, red and black maca are the variations that provide the most health benefits. In addition to its incredible nutritional composition, maca is taken as a supplement because it helps support your general well-being and prevent or treat a range of health conditions.

Which nutrients does maca contain?

The maca root can be consumed raw, but its very spicy flavour means most users don’t like the taste. That’s why maca powder is made by drying the root in the sun or by using a dehydrator. The following list outlines the nutritional composition of 100 grams of dried maca root:

  • Carbohydrates: 54-60 grams. Black maca has a higher carbohydrate content (about 70%).
  • Dietary fiber: 8 grams
  • Lipids: 1 gram
  • Proteins: 10 grams
  • Minerals: iron (14.7 milligrams), potassium (2050 milligrams), calcium (250 milligrams), copper (5.9 milligrams) and zinc (3.8 milligrams)
  • Vitamins: Vitamin B3 (niacin): 43 milligrams

How can maca affect my health?

The first settlers in Peru gained knowledge of this plant’s medicinal properties, generally using it to support female fertility and increase the physical capacity of their fighters. Written records dating back to the Spanish conquest are evidence of this use.

Maca strengthens the immune system.
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Here are some of maca’s scientifically proven benefits that we know of today:

  • It boosts energy levels and results in a general feeling of revitalisation
  • It enhances both female and male fertility
  • It lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis
  • It relieves menopausal symptoms
  • It has a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging property.
  • It protects skin from sun damage
  • It acts as an adaptogen, supporting restoration of the body’s natural balance in stressful situations
  • It heightens our physical capacity and increases athletes’ performance
  • It raises insulin sensitivity and normalises blood glucose levels (the levels of sugar in our blood)
Bernabé Cobo17th Century Author

“The properties of Maca are nutritional and improve both human and animal fertility.”

How does maca taste?

The taste of the maca plant depends on the type you’re consuming. Yellow maca tends to have a stronger taste that is spicy and bitter. Most users report getting used to the taste over time. If you want to improve the taste, you can mix maca powder with cocoa, banana, coffee, chocolate, dates, almond milk, cinnamon or cow milk.

Red maca is the sweetest and softest tasting, while black maca is slightly bitter.

How should I consume maca?

Firstly, always abide by the dosage recommended by the manufacturer of your maca supplement. Secondly, it’s a good idea to gradually increase your consumption of maca powder when you first take it. Start with one teaspoon each day for the first week, then try two teaspoons daily in the second week, and finally take three teaspoons per day.

You can mix your maca powder into liquids—like your favourite drinks, yoghurt or soups—or you can add it to cereals, granola or dough for baked goods like breads, cookies, pancakes or waffles.

Supplements in capsule form should be taken with meals—breakfast or lunch—and a sip of water. Taking maca at nighttime isn’t advised, as it can contribute to difficulties sleeping.

The antioxidants found in maca shield the body from oxidation and, therefore, from the effects of aging.
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How many varieties of maca exist?

There are more than ten different varieties of the maca plant; however, as we already mentioned, the red, black and yellow varieties provide the best benefits for human health.

Can maca really increase fertility?

Yes, this is one of the most studied therapeutic impacts of the maca plant. When it comes to female fertility, maca is believed to help suppress estrogen dominance, while encouraging a positive estrogen/progesterone balance that helps achieve pregnancy.

As for men, the regular consumption of maca root is associated with positive effects on spermatogenesis, increasing the quantity of sperm and their mobility.

Katie WellsAuthor of The Wellness Mama Cookbook

“Maca root has been shown to be beneficial for all sorts of hormonal problems including PMS, menopause and hot flashes. It is also a fertility enhancer and is best known for improving libido and sexual function, especially in men.”

Will maca help me lose weight?

No. Studies have not found a link between maca consumption and weight loss. Sometimes, when a food shows significant health benefits, we tend to see it as a jack-of-all-trades that can solve all our issues.

The reality, however, is that maca won’t help you lose weight.

Is maca a natural energiser?

Yes, the maca plant is a powerful natural energiser. Studies have shown that it enhances physical performance and limits fatigue. One of the first effects maca consumers experience is feeling more energetic and vital.

Can maca increase sexual desire?

Studies have shown that maca increases sexual desire in both men and women. An increase in libido was observed within 8 weeks of sedentary or moderately active men using this supplement. For athletes, sexual desire increased following approximately 2 weeks of maca supplementation.

Dry maca extract can have a positive effect on mild erectile dysfunction. Two clinical trials suggested that maca may also boost libido in healthy women of menopausal age. With that said, don’t be tricked by misleading ads that claim maca is a “natural viagra”.

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According to Richard Brown, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, maca is especially helpful for patients who have sexual dysfunction from using anti-depressant medications.”

Why is maca recommended for menopause?

When estrogen levels decrease during the menopausal stage, it drastically increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Several studies have shown that red maca can prevent bone loss without the adverse effects of hormone replacement therapy.

Maca also contributes to fighting hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause, and it relieves hot flushes, fatigue and vaginal dryness.

Are there risks from using maca root?

Maca consumption is safe and mostly harmless. Studies to check its toxicity or negative side effects have shown that high doses of maca are safe. That being said, always follow the doses recommended by the manufacturers to avoid putting your health at risk. Here are groups that should be especially careful with maca consumption:

  • Individuals suffering from a serious illness and/or taking chronic medication. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new supplement.
  • Pregnant and lactating women should avoid maca. Studies have not guaranteed the safety of maca during these stages.
  • Individuals with renal or hepatic insufficiency should avoid maca, as well as people suffering from insomnia.
  • People with thyroid disorders. Consult your endocrinologist prior to trying maca, as it may result in hormonal imbalances.
  • People with a sensitive stomach may benefit from taking maca in gelatin form. Its digestion is faster and easier.

Note that some individuals have experienced mild side effects during the first few days of maca use. These effects include stomach pain, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, dizziness, rashes, flatulence and abdominal swelling. See a doctor if any of these discomforts persists over time.

Superfoods offer many benefits to our health.
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Is maca beneficial for athletes?

Maca supplements are widely recommended for athletes, especially those practicing endurance activities, like marathon runners and cyclists. Studies on soccer players and cyclists have shown that daily maca consumption improves physical performance and delays the time between the onset of physical activity and the feeling of fatigue.

Studies done on mice have shown that black maca can increase physical performance by 500%.

Which type of maca is right for me?

As you now know, various types of maca exist, and they are available in various forms. Let’s take a look at the differences to help you make the best decision based on your needs and preferences.

Types of Maca

Three varieties (or ecotypes) of maca are most often used to manufacture supplements: yellow (or golden), red and black. Although the nutritional composition doesn’t vary drastically from one kind to another, the biological properties do. The most common variety is yellow or golden maca.

Type of maca Benefits
Yellow/Golden More energy, less fatigue, improved mood, fertility support and increase in libido. It relieves menopausal discomfort.
Red It contributes to treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, delays aging with its antioxidant properties, fights osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Black It supports the production of spermatozoa (spermatogenesis), boosts physical endurance, enhances learning and memory. It also helps to normalise blood glucose in diabetic individuals and heightens insulin sensitivity.

Note that these three maca ecotypes grow in very similar environmental conditions, despite their differences in biological properties. Although the external color of the root is what determines the name of the maca (yellow, red or black), the powder obtained after grinding is always a beige colour, lighter or darker depending on the maca type.

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The variety of maca impacts the flavor of the powder: mild or intense, caramelised or spicy, bitter or sweet.

Types of Maca Supplements

Maca supplements come in two general forms:

  • Powder (also called maca flour): Once harvested, the root is dried in the sun for 10 to 15 days. It is then split into smaller pieces, and each piece is dehydrated through exposure to temperatures no higher than 113˚F. The dehydrated maca is ground into an ultra-fine powder.
  • Capsules or tablets: This form also contains maca powder. They’re coated with vegetable cellulose. Capsules usually have a mild, practically neutral taste and should be taken with water. Some manufacturers integrate other nutrients into these capsules, such as vitamin B12 or L-arginine. These can enhance the effects of maca.

Shopping Criteria

There are many maca supplements available on the Canadian market right now, so you’re bound to find the right one for you. In this section, we’ve outlined some of the key aspects to consider when you’re trying to decide which product to buy:

Desired Effect

The results you are seeking will ultimately determine which maca type you want to buy. If you’re looking for an energy boost, to alleviate menopausal discomforts or to boost your sex drive, any variety will be fine: yellow, red or black. Yellow maca is the most affordable, however, and is therefore the most budget-friendly option.

On the other hand, men looking to enhance their fertility should try black maca, because this variety supports the production of spermatozoa. This kind of maca is also especially useful for individuals hoping to improve their physical endurance, such as marathon runners or cyclists.

The best maca for women of menopausal or postmenopausal age is red maca, since it helps alleviate menopausal symptoms, while also preventing osteoporosis. People suffering from diabetes and/or insulin resistance should look for black maca. Students looking to improve their intellectual performance can also benefit from this option.

Taste

Maca capsules are basically tasteless, so they’re ideal for people who want to try maca but don’t like its taste. The flavour of maca will depend on the variety. Try combining maca with coffee, chocolate, banana, almond milk, cow milk or cinnamon.

Price

The cost effectiveness of maca powder makes it a cheaper option than capsules. As we mentioned, yellow maca is the affordable variety, while red maca and black maca are usually found at similar prices.

Ease of Consumption

Maca capsules are easy to take with a glass of water. You can also slip them in your bag and have them with you anywhere you go.

Maca powder, on the other hand, needs to be dissolved into a liquid. You can also sprinkle it on cereal or integrate it into various recipes (pancakes, bread or waffles). Note that this will require a bit more time and planning.

Allergens and Certifications

We recommend organically produced maca powder supplements, since that means no agrochemicals or artificial additives have been involved in its cultivation or processing. Otherwise, the supplement could be contaminated with toxic residues.

Gluten-intolerant individuals can consume maca, but they should still seek out products that have a seal indicating that it’s gluten-free. Otherwise, some products may have been contaminated with trace amounts of gluten.

Shopping criterion Maca powder Maca capsules
Ease of consumption It needs to be mixed with drinks, cereals or other foods. You can take it with water.
Flavor Interesting. You may have to combine it with coffee, chocolate, banana, cinnamon or dates to improve the taste. Neutral
Allergens/certifications  Look for the seal of organic production (or organic food) and gluten-free Check the gluten-free and organic production certifications
Price More affordable More expensive

Summary

Maca is a millennia-old food that has exhibited positive effects on various aspects of our health, while also providing a general energising and revitalising feeling. Science and tradition have joined together to develop a supplement that can truly improve your health and wellness.

As we mentioned earlier, you should be careful to pick the right variety of maca if you want to enjoy all the benefits of this amazing root. Work your way up to taking maca daily, and don’t disregard dosage recommendations. Remember that excesses rarely serve your health in the long run.

If you found this guide helpful, please feel free to share it on your social media. You can also leave us a comment with your thoughts in the section below!

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Our writers and editors at SUPPLEMENTNATION.ca focus on making your life easier by selecting the best available everyday products and supplements in the Canadian market.