For health enthusiasts, maca is an ingredient that is widely popular as it is an excellent source of vital vitamins and nutrients. But for the rest of the world, maca is a strange name since many do not know what it is. If you’re trying to live a healthy diet and lifestyle, it’s about time you get to know what maca is.
What is Maca?
Maca is root plant commonly found in the Andean mountain plateaus of Peru. It is exceptionally a hardy plant that grows in high altitudes of 14,000 feet; where its climate is freezing cold with intense sunlight and fierce winds. While it is a member of the brassica family, no other crops can survive the environment where maca grows in. With this harsh environment, maca grows to be a root plant rich in phytonutrients, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. These qualities make maca an extremely valuable and resilient plant, which does not have any equal.
What does Maca Contain?
Maca has been found to be an excellent source of calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, and zinc. With these proponents, it is no longer a surprise why maca is able to help improve an individual’s energy metabolism in his body. Zinc, meanwhile, helps normalize fertility and reproduction and the testosterone in the blood. Together with riboflavin, zinc helps regulate hormonal activity and minimizes tiredness. Because of these, maca is widely used by health enthusiasts so they can improve their body’s condition and ability.
Historical Use of Maca
For at least 1,300 to 2,000 years ago, native Peruvians made use of maca as a food and tonic. With its proponents, maca was once believed to increase one’s stamina and energy, enhance libido and improve fertility. Apart from this, indigenous people used the root plant as a way to treat different health conditions such as tuberculosis, fatigue, sterility and anemia.
Today, maca is believed to help aid depression, cancer, menstrual and other sexual disorders. Some of the conditions that maca is believed to help include the following:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Hair Growth
- Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Weight Loss
Health Benefits of Maca
There is an ongoing study of how effective maca is and how well it can help with one’s health. But if you are considering using maca, it is best that you seek the approval of your physician first. This way, you can get an idea on whether or not this ingredient will be helpful for your health, especially if you have a preexisting health condition that needs to be taken care of. Maca should never be used as an alternative for standard care. It is best to get the approval of your doctor so you can enjoy the health benefits that maca gives such as the following:
Improved General Health
Maca is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B, C and E, calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron, and amino acids. The regular intake of maca can help improve an individual’s overall health in numerous ways. Thanks to the vitamins and minerals found in the root plant, individuals get healthier teeth and bones, prevention from anemia and cardiovascular diseases, restores red blood cells, and helps heal from wounds more quickly.
Because of the proponents it contains, maca is believed to help improve an individual’s endurance. This is why it was once used as a way to treat a person who was tired and encountering fatigue. With this, many professional athletes of today take maca as a way for them to improve their performance. A small amount can already do its trick.
Better Skin Health
While there are people who take maca for energy, there are those that use it for its help in taking care of skin issues. Maca has been known to help clear acne and blemishes on the skin. Additionally, it minimizes sensitivity to hot or cold weather.
Improved Sexual Function
Various studies on maca show different results on whether or not it could improve sexual function in both men and women. But while there is still ‘limited evidence’ on this, the ancient use of maca shows that it does help in this field. Researchers have found that maca is able to help alleviate sexual dysfunction typically caused by the use of selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); a type of medication used in treating depression. It is also believed to improve libido.
According to studies conducted, maca is capable of improving fertility especially in adult men. The use of black maca, most especially, leads to an increase in sperm count, motility, and volume. For women, on the other hand, the recommended alternative therapy to improve fertility is acupuncture.
Help for Menopause
Studies reveal that maca can help ease anxiety and depression experienced by postmenopausal women. By taking maca regularly, it is able to help lower anxiety and depression. At the same time, it helps improve women’s sexual function. Other than this, maca has been known to be helpful in relieving the commonly experienced symptoms in menopause such as body pain, cramps, mood swings, and hot flashes.
Pregnant and lactating mothers, however, are advised to avoid taking maca.
Apart from being helpful to menopausal women, maca is also good in improving one’s mood. By taking maca regularly, episodes of depression, stress, anxiety and mood swings are alleviated. There are even those who have shown improvement in mental energy and focus.
While there are plenty of health benefits that maca provides, it should not be taken without the approval of your doctor. This is particularly true for pregnant or lactating mothers, or individuals with a pre-existing health condition such as cancer. Patients with thyroid-related conditions should also avoid the root plant because the glucosinolates found in maca combined with a low-iodine diet can lead to goiter.
Because of the many health benefits it provides the body, maca is widely available commercially. It may be sold in powder, capsule, tablet or liquid form. The recommended daily dose of maca is 1 dried maca extract or 450mg capsule three times a day.
How to Enjoy Maca
Since maca is available in different forms, it is best to pick out one that best works for you. If you prefer powdered maca, you may add it to your daily juice, shake or smoothie. It can also be mixed with fruits and honey. For those on a raw food diet, raw powdered maca root is now available as an alternative. As a nutritional supplement, maca is sold in liquid, pill or capsule form. There are also some that sell maca as an oil, chocolate or coffee product. Try to determine the form that you are most comfortable in so you can enjoy taking maca and reap its health benefits.