What Is Maca Root? Potential Benefits, Risks and More!


Maca root has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its reputation for enhancing energy, fertility, and libido. But what is maca exactly? And does scientific research back up the hype around this Andean superfood?

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore what maca is, how it works in the body, the potential wellness benefits, and any risks to be aware of when using maca supplements.

What is Maca Root?

Maca is a cruciferous vegetable native to the Andean mountain ranges of Peru and Bolivia, where it has been cultivated for food and medicine for thousands of years.

The part used medicinally is the root, which resembles a small turnip or radish. Maca root comes in several colors including yellow, red, and black, which correspond to variations in nutrient profiles.

Dried maca powder is most common for supplements and easy to add to smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal, etc. Maca has an earthy, nutty taste.

The rich nutritional makeup of maca root provides its healing and restorative properties. It contains protein, fiber, vitamin C, copper, iron, and crucial plant compounds like glucosinolates and macamides.

But the effects of maca are mainly attributed to special sterols called macaenes and macamides unique to the plant. These constituents boost energy production, support hormone balance, and serve as adaptogens to counteract stress.

Now that we know what maca is, let’s look at the key evidence-based benefits.

Potential Health Benefits

Here are some of the ways that science indicates maca may improve wellbeing when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle:

Studies show maca can boost energy levels, reduce fatigue, and enhance sports performance. Macamides support mitochondrial function to increase cellular energy.

Maca has traditionally been used to boost libido and fertility in both men and women. Studies confirm it alleviates sexual dysfunction, increases sperm health, and balances hormones.

The adaptogenic properties of maca alleviate symptoms associated with hormone imbalance like menstrual irregularity, menopause, low testosterone, mood swings, and erectile dysfunction.

Maca may improve learning, focus and memory retention. Animal studies found black maca in particular preserves cognitive function and reduces memory loss.

High levels of antioxidants like polyphenols and flavonoids in maca fight free radical damage and oxidative stress to support overall health.

Maca works as a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety agent according to studies. It boosts feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and noradrenaline.

Compounds in maca can enhance immune response against pathogens. But black maca also reduces autoimmune reactions, helping prevent immune overactivity.

Red maca in particular may help shrink enlarged prostates according to research. It also alleviates urinary and sexual symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Clearly maca can benefit wellbeing in many ways as both an adaptogenic superfood and medicinal supplement. But it’s also crucial to consider the safety and optimal usage.

Proper Dosing and Precautions

Maca powder comes in doses around 500-1000mg. Start low and work up to assess tolerance. Some general dosage guidelines are:

  • Powder: 1-2 tsp daily
  • Capsules: 500-2000mg daily
  • Liquid extracts: 1-2 mL daily

Follow label directions and consult your doctor if pregnant, nursing, or on medications. Side effects are not common but can include insomnia, nausea, headaches, or elevated blood pressure in predisposed individuals.

High quality maca sources verify minimal heavy metal levels for safety. Maca may exacerbate thyroid problems for those with hormone sensitivities. Avoid large doses exceeding 5 grams daily.

While maca is very beneficial, cycled use is best long term. Take maca daily for 1-2 months, then take a break for a few weeks to prevent overstimulation. This maintains effectiveness.


Maca root, which is a plant and can be seen in cognitive health supplements like Cortexi and Quietum Plus, is an incredible adaptogenic superfood native to the Andes that provides a host of science-backed health benefits. It contains unique plant compounds called macaenes and macamides.

Research shows maca can boost energy, libido, and fertility; support hormone balance, brain function, immunity, and prostate health; supply antioxidants; and elevate mood.

Dosing around 1-2 teaspoons of powder or 500-2000mg capsules daily in cycles is safe and effective for most people. Those with thyroid issues or on medication should get medical guidance before using maca.

Overall, maca is an exceptional addition to any diet and wellness regimen thanks to its ability to restore vitality, hormones, cognition, stamina, and mood balance holistically.


1. Does maca really increase fertility?

For both men and women, studies show maca improves fertility markers like sperm health and menstrual regularity. The effects can take 2-3 months to build. Maca alone doesn’t guarantee fertility.

2. Which maca color is best?

There is no definitive “best” maca color. Red is best for prostate health. Black preserves cognitive abilities. Yellow/cream provide general adaptogenic benefits. Products with a mix of colors give a full spectrum.

3. Can maca cause mood swings?

Maca helps stabilize mood for most people. But some may experience anxiety, irritability or insomnia at high doses which can be signs of overstimulation. Lower dose or stop usage if this occurs.

4. Is maca safe for someone with thyroid problems?

Maca contains goitrogens that may interfere with thyroid function. Those with thyroid issues should consult their doctor before using maca. Supervised use and dosage is key.

5. How long until you feel the effects of maca?

Benefits are dose and individual dependent. Most feel subtle energizing effects within 1-2 weeks. Libido, hormonal balancing, and performance enhancement build up over 1-2 months with regular use.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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