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Health Benefits Of Maca Powder 2024: Top 10 You Need To Know

benefits of maca powder
Maca powder has several health benefits. Photo: Marcus Z-pics/Shutterstock

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Maca powder is made from grinding maca root, originally grown in the Peruvian mountains. Maca[1] is used for culinary and medicinal purposes, including to help treat and heal issues related to immunity, sex drive, hormone imbalance, and memory. It can be found in most health food stores or ordered online and is generally safe to consume daily, however, if using medicinally, it’s best to consult with a qualified practitioner who can outline dosage for your unique ailments. Read on to learn about the benefits of maca powder.

10 Health Benefits Of Maca Root Powder 

  • Packed with nutritional benefits.
  • Increases energy levels.
  • Increases libido.
  • Enhances fertility.
  • Improves mood.
  • May improve memory.
  • Increases ease menopausal symptoms.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Benefits the skin.
  • Help with weight loss.

Health Benefits Of Maca Powder 

Packed With Nutritional Benefits

benefits of maca powder
Maca drink has nutrients that fight diseases. Photo: marilyn barbone/Shutterstock

Aside from antioxidants, maca packs a powerful punch of many other nutrients[2] that have disease-fighting compounds. Maca contains protein as well as fiber, both essential for healthy well-being and recovery, and is also loaded with amino acids. Two tablespoons of maca offers 90 calories, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and decent percentages of essential vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, copper, iron, and calcium. 

Increases Energy Levels

Maca may increase energy, and for this reason, some athletes include maca as part of their performance regime. It falls into a class of supplements known as adaptogens, or herbs or plants that have the capacity to reduce stress in the body, leading to either feeling more relaxed or more energized. Maca supports the body in feeling both relaxed but also energized. As a high-altitude plant, maca may also have special powers in reducing fatigue by way of its anti-inflammatory compounds which can increase energy and metabolism. 

Increases Libido

Maca contains macadamias, compounds that may enhance sexual function and interest. Macamides may play a role in testosterone and estrogen production, both of which affect sexual desire and stamina. Additionally, some animal studies have proven maca to work as an aphrodisiac, and human studies have shown that women who were experiencing SSRI-related low sex drive felt an increase in sex drive after taking maca.

Enhances Fertility

Maca is most well known for its ability to balance hormones, particularly ones related to reproduction. Many people – men and women – use maca to increase their fertility and libido, while also decreasing sexual dysfunction (particularly for women after menopause). For men, maca taken daily for a few months can help improve sperm count and motility.

Improves Mood

In today’s world, it’s hard to come across individuals who haven’t experienced anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues at least once. Postmenopausal women can experience mood changes due to changes in hormone activity, however daily maca doses have been shown to improve mood for these women. Not only can depression be reduced, but blood pressure as well, which is all tied in with stress and cortisol regulation. It comes down to Maca’s innate ability to nudge hormones in the right direction.

Improve Memory

Maca may also play a positive role in memory and focus. Though human studies are lacking, studies in mice have shown that impaired memory and focus were improved by taking maca. It’s thought that the abundant antioxidants in maca are responsible for these improvements. In particular, black maca[3] was shown to have positive effects on memory when studied in a lab. 

Eases Menopausal Symptoms

Some evidence demonstrates maca extract can ease menopausal symptoms including night sweats, hot flashes, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. Furthermore, maca extract may be so effective, for certain individuals, that it can replace traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Maca can be used during or after menopause for symptom relief, however, dosage should be dictated by a medical provider. 

Boosts Immunity

In animal studies, maca has been shown to enhance immunity by increasing CD4+ T cells and white blood cells, both of which are essential to protecting against pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Maca root also contains significant amounts of micronutrients that support an optimally functioning immune system, such as vitamin C and iron.

Benefits The Skin

Maca may protect the skin in a number of ways, including from harmful UV sunlight. Skin health is heavily dependent on antioxidants, which fight off free radicals that damage skin cells, and maca is packed with these antioxidants. The alkaloids and polyphenols in maca are also key components of skin protection. 

Help With Weight Loss

Many people think weight loss is all about calories in, and calories out, however, hormones play a significant role in how we store or shed weight. Our thyroid gland produces many of the hormones circulating in our body and also controls our metabolism. Furthermore, “stubborn belly fat” can be caused by excess cortisol, the stress hormone. Maca’s ability to balance hormones makes it a wonderful asset to consider if hormonally-related weight gain is an issue for you.

What Is Maca Powder?

benefits of maca powder
Maca comes in three colors: red, yellow, and black. Photo: ADVTP/Shutterstock

The maca plant is native to the Peruvian mountains, which explains why some people refer to it as Peruvian ginseng.[4] Maca belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family, along with kale, cabbage, broccoli, and others, and has a strong, earthy, and nutty flavor. For thousands of years, Andeans have grown and used maca for nutrition and healing, often in fermented form or as a porridge. 

Due to the high demand for maca worldwide, manufactured versions in powder form can be found in many health food stores. This makes it easy to find and use by sprinkling maca into almost any dish, oatmeal, or smoothie. Maca root comes in three colors: red, yellow, and black. While yellow maca is the most common, red powdered maca is said to be most beneficial for regulating and balancing hormones, and black maca may be better suited for those with reduced focus or memory.

Side Effects Of Maca Powder

When consumed as a food, maca root powder is considered safe for most people, although the effects on pregnancy are not well-known. For this reason, pregnant women should consult with their doctor before eating or taking maca. 

As a supplement, 3 grams of daily maca should be safe to take for up to four months, however, this may vary depending on your doctor’s reason for prescribing maca. Maca may also be difficult to digest if you have trouble with other cruciferous vegetables, but otherwise, no serious side effects are currently known. 

Should You Use Maca Powder? 

Maca root powder can help improve a variety of conditions and associated symptoms and is particularly well-known for its benefits on hormone balance. That being said, the benefits of maca root are nuanced and may be more or less beneficial depending on the person and their condition. Rather than taking maca powder on your own, consult with a TCM practitioner, naturopathic doctor, or nutritionist who is familiar with maca and your medical concerns to find out if maca would benefit you. Pregnant women should avoid maca root powder.

Maca root should also be avoided for those taking blood thinning medications or anyone who has a serious, hormonally-related medical condition, such as cancer of the uterus, breast, or ovaries. Extracts from maca root can behave like estrogen in the body, which can work against healing. All the more reason why maca root powder should be taken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Conclusion

Maca powder comes from maca root, a cruciferous vegetable grown at high altitudes in Peru. It has many healing qualities, but is most well known for its ability to influence hormones in positive ways, leading to better fertility, libido, and hormone balance (especially for women going through menopause). Maca root has many nutrients and high amounts of antioxidants which make it excellent for immunity, memory, skin, and gut health as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t like the taste of maca?

Maca can be taken in maca supplements in powder or capsule form if the taste is not to your liking. However, your doctor may find that powdered maca, yellow, red, or black, may be more beneficial depending on why you’re using it.

Is it okay to take maca powder every day?

Generally, maca is safe to eat every day, however, as a maca root supplement, it’s important to consult with a qualified practitioner on dosage and duration. Some people must avoid maca altogether, such as those with serious hormonally-related medical conditions, pregnant women, and those on blood thinners.

What should I look for in a maca brand? 

There are many organic and natural brands of powdered maca that are beneficial. Any brand that has pure, organic, and unprocessed ingredients is a good place to start. Ideally, there will be nothing but maca in maca powder (no other ingredients or additives), it should also be gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO.

Which maca is best? Yellow, red, or black?

This will depend on why you’re taking it. Yellow is the most common, however black maca might be more beneficial if you’re using it to enhance memory, whereas red maca may be better for balancing hormones and related symptoms. 

How long does it take maca to work?

This depends on why you’re taking it, as well as what color of maca root, but no matter what the reason or color, you likely won’t notice a difference right away. As a supplement, maca takes time to work, so be patient – it may take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks to notice any improvements.

+ 4 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. da Silva Leitão Peres, N., Cabrera Parra Bortoluzzi, L., Medeiros Marques, L.L., Formigoni, M., Fuchs, R.H.B., Droval, A.A. and Reitz Cardoso, F.A. (2020). Medicinal effects of Peruvian maca (Lepidium meyenii): a review. Food & Function, [online] 11(1), pp.83–92. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31951246/.
  2. Gonzales-Arimborgo, C., Yupanqui, I., Montero, E., Alarcón-Yaquetto, D., Zevallos-Concha, A., Caballero, L., Gasco, M., Zhao, J., Khan, I. and Gonzales, G. (2016). Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals, [online] 9(3), p.49. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039502/
  3. Rubio, J., Qiong, W., Liu, X., Jiang, Z., Dang, H., Chen, S.-L. and Gonzales, G.F. (2011). Aqueous Extract of Black Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on Memory Impairment Induced by Ovariectomy in Mice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2011, pp.1–7. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3096456/.‌‌
  4. Gonzales, G.F. (2012). Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology ofLepidium meyenii(Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, [online] 2012, pp.1–10. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184420/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A health coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More