Andean maca, Peruvian maca or simply maca, is an ancestral crop with magnificent nutritional and medicinal properties. Do you know the advantages of taking this root? Have you ever tried it?Regular consumption of maca root is associated with several healthy effects.

It acts as a powerful energizer, improves sexual function and reproductive health, reduces the occurrence e of depression, prevents osteoporosis and alleviates the symptoms of menopause, among other benefits that we’ve outlined in this guide for your consideration.

Key Facts

  • maca is a plant that has the capacity to grow in the Peruvian Andes, at altitudes of 4,000 meters above sea level. Archaeological records show that maca root has been used for nutritional and medicinal purposes since pre-Inca times.
  • This superfood has been consumed to increase energy levels, improve physical endurance, increase fertility and relieve menopausal symptoms. As for the nutritional profile of maca, it is a source of carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin B3.
  • Traditionally, maca root was consumed fresh or dried. Nowadays most people include it in their diet through dietary supplements, that come in the form of powder, tablets or capsule.

Ranking: The best maca supplements on the market

Choosing a maca supplement can be quite complicated due to the large number of trademarks, presentation forms and concentrations available. To facilitate this choice, in this section we rank the best maca root supplements available to you.

No. 1: Webber Naturals, Maca with Ginseng (Vegetarian Capsules)

This product is made with organic maca and Korean ginseng by the Canadian company Webber Naturals. They offer high quality products that are made with the best, sustainably harvested and sourced ingredients. Each capsule contained 500 mg of Organic Peruvian maca powder and 200 mg. of Korean ginseng. It’s also free of artificial flavours, preservatives, sweeteners, dairy, starch, wheat and yeast.

Consumers love this product and find they “can’t argue with the price.” Capsules are gelatinized and apt for vegetarians. This formula is also been reported to help with stress, fatigue and a lagging libido. The recommended dosage is 1 capsule per day.

No. 2: EcoIdeas, Organic Premium maca (powder)

EcoIdeas maca powder is a natural and raw option of this root. It is certified organic, cowherds and 100% RAW. Manufacturers recommend a dosage of 1 to 9 grams of maca powder per day, which is equivalent to taking 1 to 3 teaspoons daily. It is important not to exceed the recommended amount to avoid adverse effects.

Suitable for vegans, coeliacs and lactose intolerants. This supplement is certified by the Federation of Organic Foods. Consumers report a “great taste with a sweet, malty and nutty flavour”. Ideal for mixing in smoothies, coffee or vegetable drinks. Consumers also describe feeling less tired and with more energy and vitality.
 

No. 3: Vega, Maca Vegan (capsules)

 
This product contains 120 capsules of organic, whole maca root powder gelatinized for optimum micronutrient absorption and digestibility. This product is vegan drive Product highly recommended for athletes, for people who want to have more energy and for women going through the stage of menopause.
 
100% natural supplement, without artificial colouring or flavouring. GMO-free. Suitable for coeliacs, vegans and lactose and soy intolerants. The material of the capsules is completely vegetable. Consumer report this product to be of excellent quality and price.
 

No. 4: EcoIdeas, Organic Black maca (powder)

Black maca has been shown to be beneficial in rebuilding weak immune systems, rem-mineralizing poorly nourished bodies and increasing energy and endurance. It can also be characterized for having positive effects on memory, learning, sperm production and blood sugar levels.

To obtain these benefits, it is important to take black maca every day, but without exceeding the recommended dose. The recommended dosage is 1 to 9 grams per day (1 to 3 teaspoons daily). Consumers preferred method of ingestion is mixing in two ounces of water a 1:1 ratio of maca and honey.

No. 5: Organic Traditions, Maca X-6 Black And Red-Purple (powder)

This Organic Traditions maca mixture is 80% back, 15% red-purple and 5% yellow maca.
This blend has a very versatile use since its perfect for smoothies, yoghurt, desserts or energy drinks to give that extra boost in stamina.

This product is cold gelatinized to remove the starch from the root, leaving a more concentrated powder that is not only easier to absorb and digest, but that it also offers a great concentration of powerful phytonutrients. This product is gluten-free, USDA Organics and Kosher.

No. 6: Brad King, Ultimate maca Energy (liquid)

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about maca

In this section, we’ll answer questions that consumers often ask themselves about maca root. You will know the benefits, properties, uses and contraindications of this supplement.
 

Woman drinking juice

Maca favours learning and improves the memory
(Source: Citalliance: 35810638/123rf.com)

What is maca?

Maca, whose scientific name is Lepidium meyenii, is a plant that grows in the Peruvian Andes, at more than 4,000 meters above sea level, in adverse environmental conditions that include low temperatures, drought and intense sunlight. The edible portion is the root (or hypocotyl), which resembles a large radish.
 
There are numerous varieties of maca, according to the external colour of its root. The biggest health benefits come from yellow, red and black maca. Maca is used to make supplements because, in addition to its excellent nutritional composition, it helps to increase overall well-being and prevent and/or treat various diseases.

What nutrients does maca provide?

Maca root can be eaten raw, but it has a very spicy taste and is not usually well liked. To make maca powder, the root is dried in the sun or by using dehydrators. For this reason, we express below the nutritional composition of dry maca root (per 100 grams):

    Carbohydrates Food Fibres Lipids Proteins Minerals Vitamins
    54-60 grams usually – black maca is usually higher in carbohydrates (about 70%) 8 grams  1 gram 10 grams iron 14.7mg, calcium 250mg, potassium 2,050mg, zinc 3.8mg, copper 5.9mg Vitamin B3 (niacin): 43mg

Why is taking maca beneficial to our health?

The ancient settlers of Peru knew the medicinal properties of maca, mainly to improve female fertility and promote the physical capacity of their warriors. There are written records of these benefits dating back to the time of the Spanish conquest.
 

Powder maca

Maca strengthens the immune system.
(Fuente: Ildipapp: 15088618/123rf.com)

 
To date, the scientifically proven benefits of maca are as follows:

  • Increases energy levels and provides a general revitalizing sensation
  • Increases female and male fertility
  • Decreases the risk of developing osteoporosis
  • Mitigates menopausal symptoms
  • It has a powerful antioxidant and anti-aging actions. When the body is “oxidized” by free radical damage, we get sick and get older.
  • Protects the skin from damage caused by exposure to solar radiation
  • It acts as an adaptogen, favouring the restoration of equilibrium to our organism in a stressful situation.
  • Improves physical capacity and increases athletes performance
  • Increases insulin sensitivity and normalizes blood glucose levels (blood sugar level)
Bernabe Cobo

“The properties of maca are nutritional and help improve both human and animal fertility”

What does maca taste like?

Its taste depends on the variety. Yellow maca is stronger, somewhat spicy and bitter. However, most consumers report getting used to its taste as the days go by. A good way to improve its taste is to combine it with cocoa, chocolate, banana, almond milk, coffee, cinnamon, dates or milk.

Red maca is the sweetest and mildest in flavour, while black maca is slightly bitter.

How should maca be consumed?

First, it is important not to exceed the dose recommended by the supplement manufacturer. Secondly, it is ideal to progressively increase the consumption of maca powder. It is recommended to start with one teaspoon daily during the first week, then progress to two teaspoons daily in the second week and finally reach three teaspoons per day.
 
Maca powder must be dissolved in drinks (water, tea, milk, milkshakes, coffee, juices), yoghurt or soups, or it can also be mixed with cereals, granola or doughs for biscuits, pancakes or waffles.
 
In the case of capsules, it is advisable to take them together with breakfast or lunch, accompanied by a sip of water. It is not recommended to take maca at night because it could cause insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
 

Liquefied maca

The antioxidants in maca protect our body from oxidation and, therefore, from aging.
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Is there only one variety of maca?

No. There are more than ten varieties of maca, but those of importance to human health are red, yellow and black.

Is it true that maca increases fertility?

Yes, it’s one of the most studied therapeutic effects. As for female fertility, maca does not increase the number of eggs per cycle nor does it increase the rate of implantation of the fertilized egg, but studies carried out in female mice have shown that it increases the number of offspring and reduces the risk of embryo death.
 
In the case of men, regular consumption of maca root has been associated with a positive impact on spermatogenesis, increasing sperm count and sperm motility.
 

Fernando LosaGynaecologist

“It favours the increase of seminal volume, the amount of sperm per ejaculation and sperm mobility.”

Does maca help you lose weight?

No. There is no study linking maca consumption to weight loss. Sometimes it happens that when a food proves to be very beneficial for health, it is attributed almost magical properties or it is thought that it is a wild card that serves for absolutely everything.

Maca doesn’t help you lose weight.

Is maca a natural energizer?

Yes, maca is a powerful natural energizer. Studies in humans showed greater physical performance and less fatigue. One of the first changes maca consumers experience is feeling more energetic and full of vitality.

Can maca increase sexual drive?

Human studies have shown that maca increases sexual desire in both men and women. In sedentary or moderately active men, increased libido was seen after 8 weeks of taking this supplement. In contrast, in male athletes, sexual desire increased around 2 weeks of maca consumption.
 
The dry extract of maca can have a significant positive effect on mild erectile dysfunction. Results from two clinical trials suggest that maca may also increase libido in healthy women of menopausal age. However, do not fall for misleading ads that claim that maca is the “natural viagra”.
 

foco

As Dr. Fernando Losa (gynaecologist) explains: “It must be clear that maca is a food, not a medicine.”

Why is it recommended to take maca in the menopausal stage?

”During menopause, maca can be an ally in relieving symptoms and strengthening bones” says nutrition expert Marta Lorenzo.
 
During this biological stage, the estrogen levels decrease and this drastically increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Numerous studies have shown that red maca prevents bone loss without the adverse effects of hormone replacement therapy (breast and endometrial cancer).

Maca also helps to counter hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause and to relieve hot flashes, fatigue and vaginal dryness.

Are there contraindications for the use maca root?

Consumption of maca has been shown to be safe and almost harmless. Studies have been conducted to evaluate its toxicity or adverse effects and maca has been concluded to be safe at high doses. However, it is advisable to respect the doses recommended by the manufacturers so as not to put health at risk.

  • Everyone suffering from a serious illness and/or taking chronic medication. You should not take any supplement without first consulting your family doctor.
  • Pregnant and lactating women should not take maca. There are no studies that guarantee the safety of this supplement during such biological situations.
  • It should not be consumed by people with renal or hepatic insufficiency. Neither should those who suffer from insomnia.
  • People with thyroid disorders. They should consult their endocrinologist before taking maca because it could cause a hormonal imbalance.
  • Those with a sensitive stomach. May benefit from consuming gelatinized maca. Digestion is faster and easier.

Some people have experienced mild adverse effects during the first few days of taking maca, such as stomach pain, insomnia, nausea, dizziness, nervousness, rashes, flatulence and abdominal swelling. If these discomforts persist over time, it is important to consult a doctor.
 

Superfoods

Superfoods can have many benefits on our health.
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Is maca beneficial for athletes?

Maca is a natural supplement widely recommended for athletes, especially for those who practice endurance activities, such as marathoners and cyclists. Studies of football players and cyclists have shown that daily consumption of maca improves physical performance and delays the time from the onset of physical activity until athletes begin to experience the sensation of fatigue.

In mouse studies, black maca was shown to increase physical performance by 500%.

What types of maca are there and which one is right for me?

There are different types of maca and also different forms of presentation of this superfood. Ahead we reveal the differences between each maca supplement so that you can make the best decision based on your needs and preferences.

Types of maca

Maca supplements can be made from 3 varieties or ecotypes: yellow (or golden), red or black. The nutritional composition of the 3 types of maca does not vary drastically, but its biological properties do. Yellow maca, or golden maca, is the most common variety.
 

Type of maca Benefits
Yellow/Golden More energy, less fatigue, better mood,
supports fertility and increases libido. Reduces menopausal discomfort.
Red Contributes to the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, delays aging, thanks to its antioxidant capacity, prevents osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Black Promotes sperm production (spermatogenesis), improves physical endurance, promotes learning and memory. Helps normalize blood glucose in diabetics and improves insulin sensitivity.

 
It should be clarified that, despite their differences, the three maca ecotypes grow under similar environmental conditions. In addition, the designations “yellow, red or black” refers to the external colour of the maca root, keep in mind the powder resulting from grinding it is always beige or lighter in colour.

Types of maca supplements

Maca supplements are available in 2 forms of presentation:

  • In powder (also called maca flour): after harvest, the maca root is dried in the sun for 10-15 days. The root is then cut into smaller pieces and each of these parts is dehydrated by exposure to temperatures no higher than 45 °C. The root is then cut into smaller pieces and each of these parts is dehydrated by exposure to temperatures no higher than 45 °C. The pieces of dehydrated maca are ground to an ultra-fine powder.
  • In capsules or tablets: capsules and tablets also consist of maca powder, which is contained in a capsule or pressed into a tablet, coated with vegetable cellulose (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose). The capsules have a mild, practically neutral taste and should be consumed together with a glass of water. Some manufacturers add other nutrients to the capsules, e.g. vitamin B12 or L-arginine, in order to enhance the effects of maca.

Remember that depending on the maca variety, the powder will taste mild or intense, caramelized or spicy, sweet or bitter.

Purchase Criteria

Of all the maca supplements you can find on the market, there’s one that’s right for you. To find out what it is, you must evaluate certain purchase criteria:

  • Desired Benefit
  • Flavour
  • Price
  • Method of Intake
  • Recommended Daily Dose
  • Allergens & Certifications

Desired Benefit

The choice of the type of maca depends on the effect you want to obtain after consumption. If you are interested in taking this supplement for energy, to alleviate the discomfort of menopause or to increase sexual desire, you can choose any variety of maca (yellow, red or black). However, the yellow maca would be the most convenient for your pocket because it is the most affordable one.

On the other hand, if you are a man and you want to improve your fertility, the indicated variety is the black maca, since it will stimulate the production of spermatozoa. This type of maca is also recommended for those who seek to improve their physical endurance, for example, marathon runners (currently called “runners”).

Red maca will be most suitable for women of menopausal or postmenopausal age, as it helps to alleviate the symptoms of this biological stage, while preventing osteoporosis. For people with diabetes and/or insulin resistance, black maca is recommended. This variety can also be very beneficial for students who want to improve their intellectual performance.

Flavour

Maca capsules have a virtually neutral taste and are ideal for those who want to take advantage of the benefits of this superfood, but do not like its taste. Maca powder has a peculiar taste, which will depend on the variety. The best ingredients to combine maca in shakes or preparations are coffee, cocoa, banana, almond milk, milk or cinnamon.

Price

Maca powder is cheaper than capsules because of its cost-performance ratio. Yellow maca is the cheapest of the three varieties, while red maca and black maca have similar prices.
 

Yellow Maca Red Maca Black Maca
Price Low Moderate Moderate

Method of Intake

This is another basic purchase criterion. Maca capsules are easy to consume, a sip of water is enough to make swallowing easier. They are comfortable to carry in your bag and you can take them anywhere.

On the other hand, to consume the Maca powder supplement, you must mix it with some liquid (water, milk, juice, yoghurt, vegetable drink or milkshake), sprinkle it on cereals or integrate it in different preparations (pancakes, biscuits or waffles). This demands a little more time and planning.

Recommended Daily Dose

Most maca capsule manufacturers seek to concentrate the active ingredients of this superfood to reduce the dosage to a single capsule daily. In other cases it may be necessary to take two or three capsules a day.

For maca powder, the recommended dose is 1 to 3 teaspoons per day, an amount that can be easily incorporated into a pancake or a milkshake.

Allergens & Certifications

It is important that you buy an organically produced maca powder supplement, i.e. no agrochemicals or artificial additives have been involved in its cultivation or processing, respectively. Otherwise, maca could be contaminated with toxic waste.

Maca is suitable for celiacs, but they should still look for the seal that indicates it is gluten-free because it could be contaminated with traces of wheat, oats, barley or rye during grinding.

Purchase Criterion Powder Capsules
Easy of Consumption Must be mixed with drinks, cereals or other preparations. The capsule is taken with water.
Flavour Peculiar. May need to be combined with coffee, chocolate, banana, cinnamon or dates to improve taste. Neutral.
Recommended Daily Dose 3 to 9 grams (1 to 3 teaspoons). 1 to 3 capsules.
Allergens & Certifications Search for the seal of organic production (or organic food) and gluten-free. Verify the certification of organic production and gluten-free.
Price More affordable. More expensive.

 

Summary

Maca is a food that has been around for a millennia, and has been shown to have beneficial effects on various aspects of our health, in addition to providing an overall revitalizing sensation and feeling more energized. With supplements, science and tradition merge successfully to generate a product that can contribute greatly to improving health and well-being.
 
In the different sections of this guide we have delved into the varieties of maca, as well as their biological properties, nutritional content, uses, forms of consumption, adverse effects and contraindications.
 
As we mentioned before, to enjoy all the benefits that this root offers, it is fundamental that you choose the most suitable supplement for you and that you make the maca part of your daily habits, while remembering respect and not exceed the recommended doses. Keep in mind the popular saying: “A good thing in excess becomes a bad thing”.
 
If this guide has been helpful and informative, don’t forget to share it in your social networks.
 
(Featured image source: Uliasz: 28099410/123rf.com)

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