Top 5 Maca Root Benefits and Nutrition (No. 4 is Best)

Top 5 Maca Root BenefitsMaca root (lepidium meyenii) is an adaptogen and a member of the cruciferous family, like broccoli and cabbage, but due to it’s unique properties it considered one of the world’s natural “super foods.”  Maca is grown high in the mountains of South America, mainly in high altitude regions of Peru.

The pleasant tasting root is usually available in powder form after being harvested and grounded down. The maca root benefits include a positive effect on hormone balance, energy levels, and a health booster.

And not only is it a natural source of healing nutrition, but it also has a long history of being a safe superfood that has been consumed for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years in regions of the Andes Mountains.

Famous rock Fitz Roy peaks in the Andes Maca is a pleasant tasting root usually available in powder form. It is very rich in nutrients (has a higher calcium level than milk) and is very nutrient dense.

Maca Root benefits include increased fertility in both men and women, hormone balance, booster for the immune system, and  increased energy, stamina, improved sexual function, memory, and focus. (12)

Maca is considered an “adaptogen”, a name given to certain herbs, plants, and natural substances that help the body naturally adapt to stressors like a busy schedule, demanding job, or illness, for example. (3)

Another unique fact about maca root is that historically it has been considered a very potent aphrodisiac and a traditional fertility secret of populations living in the Andes.

Consuming maca often makes people feel more “alive”, energetic, and leaves them with a sense of well-being, all of which are thought to be due to its ability to restore proper hormone balance and elevate “feel good” endorphins. Another benefit of maca is its relatively high amount of absorbable plant-based nutrients, including protein, fiber, calcium and magnesium, among others.

Maca Nutrition Facts

Maca root powder is comprised of approximately 18% protein, 76.5% carbohydrates, 5% fat, and 8.5% fiber (indigestible carbohydrates). Maca provides a powerful source of nutrition, including:

  • Over 20 amino acids, including 8 essential amino acids
  • 20 free-form fatty acids (such as lauric, linolenic, palmitic acid, oleic , and steric acid)
  • Vitamins B-1, B-2, C and E
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Sulphur
  • Sodium
  • Iron

Maca is also a rich source of phytonutrients.

There is no particular recommended serving size of maca according to experts, however most people feel best when starting with about 1 tablespoon daily (in powder form) and possibly working their way up to 2-3 tablespoons, spread throughout the day. Because maca can help increase energy and stamina, many people like to consume it before exercising.

In the Andes Mountain, locals may consume as much as a pound of dried or fresh maca root daily.  Most people supplement with 1g to 20g daily in powder form.

Top 5 Maca Root Benefits

Although maca itself contains no actual hormones, most of maca root’s benefits are attributed to its ability to help restore sexual, endocrine (hormonal), and mental health. Here is how maca may be able to benefit both men and women:

PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Word cloud 1. PMS, Menopause, and Women with Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Maca Root is well known to help with hormone balance that often contributes to improving the symptoms of PMS and Menopause. In females with PCOS, maca is believed to help by controlling estrogen levels in the body.

Estrogen levels that are either too high or too low can make it difficult for a women to ovulate and become pregnant.  Therefore balancing the amount of estrogen that a women produces, and in turn the amount of related progesterone produced, is very important for increasing reproductive health, fertility, and decreasing symptoms related to PCOS- like irregular menstrual cycles, excess hair growth, and more. (4)

 
young woman drinking coffee2. Women’s Hormones, Fertility, and Sexual Health

A 2008 study from the journal Menopause showed that maca benefits had positive results on boosting menopausal women’s moods and decreasing levels of anxiety and depression.

The same study also showed that the improvement in mood led to increased sexual libido. (5)  A separate study done in 2008 by CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics showed that maca had the ability to increase sexual libido in women, likely due to its positive effects on serotonin levels, the “feel good” hormone. (2)

In one study done using animals and maca, it was found that in female animals taking maca, multiple egg follicles were able to successfully mature, which is important for ovulation and reproductive health. (4)

Maca is believed to restore women’s hormonal balance by supporting the endocrine system and aiding in the regulation of healthy adrenal and thyroid hormone production. (3)

The adrenal gland and thyroid gland play a major part in regulating many feelings – everything from stress levels to appetite. Restoring the health of these glands is paramount for someone wanting to feel their best.

Athletic Male Boxer 3. Male’s Testosterone Levels and Fertility

In clinical studies, serum levels of testosterone were not shown to be affected by maca. Black maca however, has been shown to have positive effects on sperm production, more than yellow maca and red maca.

Red maca has its own benefits for male hormonal health.  It has been shown to reduce prostate size in studies done on male rats. This points to the conclusion that maca may possibly help improve human prostate health as well.

In other studies, maca has also been shown to improve sperm production, mobility, and volume, all important factors of increasing fertility. (1)

In another 2010 report summarizing the results of 4 clinical trials carried out by BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, maca was able to show benefits related to improving sexual dysfunction and sexual libido in adult men and women. However the other two trials did not show the same positive results, so more formal research is still needed to determine the exact power of maca on fertility. (2)

Even though the studies haven’t yet show maca to naturally boost testosterone, there are other great natural alternatives that may help that you can find in this article on how to naturally increase testosterone.

woman basking in sunshine 4. Energy, Memory and Mood

Those who regularly use maca powder report that it makes them feel more awake, energized, and driven, often relatively quickly after beginning to use it. A positive attribute of using maca for increased energy compared to using caffeine is that maca does not give most people “jitters” or a sense of shakiness like high levels of caffeine can.

Clinical trials have shown that maca has positive effects on energy, stamina, and mood. Maintaining positive energy levels is related to having lower levels of anxiety and depression, both of which maca has been shown to positively help achieve.

Exactly how maca increases energy is still unknown, however it’s believed that it may be able to do so by helping to stabilize blood sugar levels (which decrease energy spikes and dips), and to maintain adrenal health, which regulates mood and energy throughout the day. (3)

Maca benefits also include regulating the hypothamlus, helping the pituitary gland to properly function, which is another key element in balancing focus and energy. (4) An increase in focus, energy and mood enables people to concentrate better and therefore to improve memory and ability to complete tasks.

antioxidants stamp label 5. Antioxidant Booster

Maca root acts as a natural antioxidant, and boosts levels of glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase). These are two major disease fighters in the body. Results from recent studies demonstrate that maca root has the ability to help prevent the development of chronic human diseases that are characterized by high levels of “bad” cholesterol, high antioxidative states, and impaired glucose tolerance. (6)

And because maca root increases the glutathione levels in the body, it not only improves your immune system and disease resistance, but also it is helps balance proper levels of cholesterol in the body.  Plus, it significantly improves glucose tolerance, by lowering levels of glucose in blood. (6) This is especially important for those who need to worry about heart health and conditions like diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

While more research is still needed to reveal how exactly maca benefits the body’s hormonal and nervous systems, initial studies that have been completed have shown promising results for use of maca.

Maca Side Effects

Although maca does not generally produce harmful side effects in those that use it, and it has been safely consumed for thousands of years, there is still more to learn about the exact safety and side effects of using maca for medicinal benefits. (2)

Because of maca’s effects on hormone levels, physicians believe that maca should not be consumed by people who rely on hormone-altering medications for treatment of illnesses like breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example, or for other serious conditions. People who have high blood pressure are also advised to not consume maca.

More research is still needed on whether or not maca is safe for use in pregnant or nursing women. So, until it is confirmed to be safe, it is best for these women to avoid maca. (2)

Where to Buy Maca

Maca can be found in most health food stores in powder form. You may also find it available in capsule, liquid, or extract form. All forms are thought to be equally beneficial, however its best to buy maca from a quality harvester that ensures its 100% pure maca root powder and ideally look for a variety that is raw and organic.

Maca comes in a variety of colors, most commonly yellow, black, and red. All colors of maca have similar benefits, although specific maca types/colors are thought to be more beneficial for certain medical conditions. If you are not able to find maca in a store, it is widely available online, often at lower prices.

How to Use Maca

maca powder and root There are many great ways to incorporate maca root benefits into your diet!

If you are new to using maca powder and want to experience its benefits yourself, look for maca in its most readily available powder form.  Then begin conveniently adding it to meals that you would otherwise be making anyway; like breakfast, for example.

Most people prefer to not microwave or heat their maca powder at high temperatures, for example when baking, because it’s possible that some of the nutrients are diminished through the heating process.

Many people also use maca by adding it in powdered form to different recipes that adjust well to the slight sweetness of maca. While not overly sweet tasting, maca has a natural nutty, slightly sweet quality to it, similar to cinnamon or nutmeg. The taste of maca root blends well when added to a fruit smoothie, oatmeal, or cereal.

My favorite way is in a smoothie, like my Chocolate Banana Nut Smoothie Recipe. Try it out and see if you soon experience the same positive results that thousands of other maca users already have!

Also, check out these articles on other adaptogenic herbs like Maca:

Ashwagandha Benefits Adrenals and Thyroid

Rhiodiola Benefits Fat Loss

Holy Basil Benefits Cortisol

Have you used Maca? Or what super foods do you like to add into your smoothies?


From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.


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  1. Charlotte Glisson says:

    Spirulina to everything ! Smoothies, salad topper, my pets’ food you name it ! That blue-green algea is a power house of the super foods !

  2. Katie says:

    Do you still recommend Maca root to people with hypothyroidism since it is from the cruciferous family? Have a patient dealing with both thyroid involvement and infertility. Curious if Maca root should be part of my recommendation for her. I am not overly familiar with Maca, so wanted to see what you had to say.

    Thanks in advance,
    Katie Effertz, DC

  3. Jeannie Gurley says:

    My husband has prostate cancer. Is maca safe for him?

  4. ec says:

    Is it safe to use maca if on compounded prescriptions of T3/T4, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone?
    I just cannot get my hormones balanced.

    • That is something you would need to consult your physician about. But maca is an adaptogen so it should work by helping bring your body and hormones back into balance.

  5. Shannon says:

    Are there any brands of Maca powder you can recommend?

  6. angela says:

    Is this safe to consume while pregnant?

    • Maca is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken in amounts found in foods. Maca is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in larger amounts as medicine (up to 3 grams daily) for up to four months. Maca seems to be well tolerated by most people.

      Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not much is known about maca and pregnancy. Maca is a root vegetable and is very much like a radish so for most people it’s not much different than eating any other food is consumed in moderation around 1 gram a day. But I always recommend talking to your physician. If you are worried about it I would recommend to stay off it during pregnancy and add it back in later.

  7. Debbie says:

    I have tried the gelatinized MACA and found it caused severe diarrhea and intestinal cramping. I was trying to help with hormones and energy. I tried it twice thinking I had an intestinal bug, but it was worse the second time I took it.

  8. Mary Ann says:

    I had a hysterectomy and Uterus and Cervix were removed due to fibroids. In addition, I had my gall bladder removed back in 2000. Most doctors are not aware of this Maca Powder and do not know how to answer questions regarding this remarkable radish. I am 53 years old and interested in trying Maca Powder. I read that maca regulates hormones. Please explain and is it safe for me.

    • I would always consult with your physician, but remember maca is a food just like everything else we eat. It’s a radish and so if taken in moderation around 1 gram daily is not much different than eating a root vegetable.

  9. Linda says:

    Word of caution Maca is not for everyone. It increased my hot flashes and I felt worse. Can also raise blood pressure. Once again everything is trial and error. For me the best answer for menopause has been Vitamin E and fish oil.

  10. Benjamen says:

    I bought Maca supplements because of a biofeedback session showing my endocrine system being out of whack. I feel this is due to a severe case of candida over growth I’ve been battling since April. It has caused all sorts of digestion issues, bladder and UT issues and prostate issues. Though things are on the up and up, I notice above the high carbohydrate level, is Maca safe to take at this time since sugars and carbs are to be avoided? Also, I bought the Maca because of its potential affect on the health of the prostate, does the yellow Maca help with this? Or just the red? The maca in the capsule appears to be yellow. Thank your for your time.

  11. Jenny says:

    Is it safe for women taking birth control pills?

  12. JP says:

    I have Hasimotos and was taking synthroid but stopped on my own because it made me feel worse so I am trying to heal naturally. I am making bone broth now and began taking ashwaganda but is it ok to also take maca root too? I am low on energy despite eating gluten free for over 2 years. I have also been Paleo for 2 months. I want to regain the old me so I can work out regularly beyond brisk walking and be and feel healthy!

  13. Maribel Lopez says:

    Recommendations of supplements for 48 year old female with monthly PMS.

  14. Daniel says:

    Is it better to cycle the Maca and Ashwagandha or can these be taken daily?

  15. Val says:

    Is it better to take raw maca powder or the gelatinized. I would think raw, but you link to the gelatinized product when you say what you use. I am curious as to why you would choose the gelatinized over the raw? Wouldn’t the gelatinized have some of the nutrients and enzymes destroyed?

  16. dilys says:

    I’d like to try ashwagandha but believe it is from the nightshade family which affect my finger joints. I am hypothyroid and have adrenal fatigue and CFS.

  17. Bethany Conley says:

    I used to purchase the Navitas Maca powder but then I noticed on some of the bags it said “could cause birth defects”
    what would you recommend?

  18. neekie says:

    I have had my thyroids removed in 05 and over the past 2 1/2 , 3 years I have gained about 150 or more pounds, my stomach has gotten bigger, dr says I have high blood pressure and diabetes. I have a sit down job and I am the bread winner/bill payer in my home. I have just recently been told I have sleep apnea. I really need help losing this weight, gaining energy and getting my life back. Any suggestions?

  19. bridgette says:

    ive been using macca for about a year for the symptoms of menopause , namely depression and feeling exhausted as well as hot flashes, The depression and exhaustion went away but the hot flashes seemed to have a mind of their own sometimes raging other times calm , I did wonder I the Macca was effecting them so I had a break for a couple of months. The exhaustion and depression came back and the hot flashes continued to do their thing , so obviously I recommenced the macca . The hot flashes are actually better now , still going but not so obvious and overwhelming, What I have noticed though is that consuming any sugar foods increases the hot flashes especially at night, and that any kind of exercise decreases them. i would love to know if there have been any studies on hot flashes and what effects them, I’ve talked to several women about this and it doesn’t seem uncommon for them to go on for a decade or more !!! Surely the human body is better designed than this why are most women suffering like this yet others barely notice apart from their periods stopping ??.

  20. Dee says:

    Hi, I am on low dose oral steroids. I found when I started maca (1 teaspoon per day) my depression and anxiety got substantially worse around that time of the month. I really enjoy the taste of maca and what to balance my hormones. What you would advise?

  21. Anne Miller says:

    I tried maca powder & had an awful reaction to it. Hot flushes, palpitations really fast heart beat, feeling sick & then exhausted. Awful stuff!

  22. Julie says:

    I have Crohñ’s would you recommend to take it. Would it help to boost my immunity.

  23. Jessica says:

    Dr. Axe Would it be safe to take this if one has hashimotos, or other autoimmune issues? I am in the process of healing leaky gut, but also have PCOS and adrenal fatigue. Thanks

  1. Charlotte Glisson says:

    Spirulina to everything ! Smoothies, salad topper, my pets’ food you name it ! That blue-green algea is a power house of the super foods !

  2. Katie says:

    Do you still recommend Maca root to people with hypothyroidism since it is from the cruciferous family? Have a patient dealing with both thyroid involvement and infertility. Curious if Maca root should be part of my recommendation for her. I am not overly familiar with Maca, so wanted to see what you had to say.

    Thanks in advance,
    Katie Effertz, DC

  3. Jeannie Gurley says:

    My husband has prostate cancer. Is maca safe for him?

  4. ec says:

    Is it safe to use maca if on compounded prescriptions of T3/T4, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone?
    I just cannot get my hormones balanced.

    • That is something you would need to consult your physician about. But maca is an adaptogen so it should work by helping bring your body and hormones back into balance.

  5. Shannon says:

    Are there any brands of Maca powder you can recommend?

  6. angela says:

    Is this safe to consume while pregnant?

    • Maca is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken in amounts found in foods. Maca is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in larger amounts as medicine (up to 3 grams daily) for up to four months. Maca seems to be well tolerated by most people.

      Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not much is known about maca and pregnancy. Maca is a root vegetable and is very much like a radish so for most people it’s not much different than eating any other food is consumed in moderation around 1 gram a day. But I always recommend talking to your physician. If you are worried about it I would recommend to stay off it during pregnancy and add it back in later.

  7. Debbie says:

    I have tried the gelatinized MACA and found it caused severe diarrhea and intestinal cramping. I was trying to help with hormones and energy. I tried it twice thinking I had an intestinal bug, but it was worse the second time I took it.

  8. Mary Ann says:

    I had a hysterectomy and Uterus and Cervix were removed due to fibroids. In addition, I had my gall bladder removed back in 2000. Most doctors are not aware of this Maca Powder and do not know how to answer questions regarding this remarkable radish. I am 53 years old and interested in trying Maca Powder. I read that maca regulates hormones. Please explain and is it safe for me.

    • I would always consult with your physician, but remember maca is a food just like everything else we eat. It’s a radish and so if taken in moderation around 1 gram daily is not much different than eating a root vegetable.

  9. Linda says:

    Word of caution Maca is not for everyone. It increased my hot flashes and I felt worse. Can also raise blood pressure. Once again everything is trial and error. For me the best answer for menopause has been Vitamin E and fish oil.

  10. Benjamen says:

    I bought Maca supplements because of a biofeedback session showing my endocrine system being out of whack. I feel this is due to a severe case of candida over growth I’ve been battling since April. It has caused all sorts of digestion issues, bladder and UT issues and prostate issues. Though things are on the up and up, I notice above the high carbohydrate level, is Maca safe to take at this time since sugars and carbs are to be avoided? Also, I bought the Maca because of its potential affect on the health of the prostate, does the yellow Maca help with this? Or just the red? The maca in the capsule appears to be yellow. Thank your for your time.

  11. Jenny says:

    Is it safe for women taking birth control pills?

  12. JP says:

    I have Hasimotos and was taking synthroid but stopped on my own because it made me feel worse so I am trying to heal naturally. I am making bone broth now and began taking ashwaganda but is it ok to also take maca root too? I am low on energy despite eating gluten free for over 2 years. I have also been Paleo for 2 months. I want to regain the old me so I can work out regularly beyond brisk walking and be and feel healthy!

  13. Maribel Lopez says:

    Recommendations of supplements for 48 year old female with monthly PMS.

  14. Daniel says:

    Is it better to cycle the Maca and Ashwagandha or can these be taken daily?

  15. Val says:

    Is it better to take raw maca powder or the gelatinized. I would think raw, but you link to the gelatinized product when you say what you use. I am curious as to why you would choose the gelatinized over the raw? Wouldn’t the gelatinized have some of the nutrients and enzymes destroyed?

  16. dilys says:

    I’d like to try ashwagandha but believe it is from the nightshade family which affect my finger joints. I am hypothyroid and have adrenal fatigue and CFS.

  17. Bethany Conley says:

    I used to purchase the Navitas Maca powder but then I noticed on some of the bags it said “could cause birth defects”
    what would you recommend?

  18. neekie says:

    I have had my thyroids removed in 05 and over the past 2 1/2 , 3 years I have gained about 150 or more pounds, my stomach has gotten bigger, dr says I have high blood pressure and diabetes. I have a sit down job and I am the bread winner/bill payer in my home. I have just recently been told I have sleep apnea. I really need help losing this weight, gaining energy and getting my life back. Any suggestions?

  19. bridgette says:

    ive been using macca for about a year for the symptoms of menopause , namely depression and feeling exhausted as well as hot flashes, The depression and exhaustion went away but the hot flashes seemed to have a mind of their own sometimes raging other times calm , I did wonder I the Macca was effecting them so I had a break for a couple of months. The exhaustion and depression came back and the hot flashes continued to do their thing , so obviously I recommenced the macca . The hot flashes are actually better now , still going but not so obvious and overwhelming, What I have noticed though is that consuming any sugar foods increases the hot flashes especially at night, and that any kind of exercise decreases them. i would love to know if there have been any studies on hot flashes and what effects them, I’ve talked to several women about this and it doesn’t seem uncommon for them to go on for a decade or more !!! Surely the human body is better designed than this why are most women suffering like this yet others barely notice apart from their periods stopping ??.

  20. Dee says:

    Hi, I am on low dose oral steroids. I found when I started maca (1 teaspoon per day) my depression and anxiety got substantially worse around that time of the month. I really enjoy the taste of maca and what to balance my hormones. What you would advise?

  21. Anne Miller says:

    I tried maca powder & had an awful reaction to it. Hot flushes, palpitations really fast heart beat, feeling sick & then exhausted. Awful stuff!

  22. Julie says:

    I have Crohñ’s would you recommend to take it. Would it help to boost my immunity.

  23. Jessica says:

    Dr. Axe Would it be safe to take this if one has hashimotos, or other autoimmune issues? I am in the process of healing leaky gut, but also have PCOS and adrenal fatigue. Thanks