What is Maca, and is it good for you?

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As a husband with a Peruvian wife I’ve learned not to question anything regarding how great anything Peruvian is…  at least not out loud.

Maca was no exception so I decided to search the web and find out for myself before I decided to purchase and try any.

There seems to be a slow buzz stirring lately about Maca and its health benefits, but not a lot of people I talked to had heard about it.

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Maca, also known as Peruvian Ginseng is native to the high Andes mountains of Peru.

It is often dried and can be used as flour once processed, a dietary supplement, or you can also cook it as a root vegetable.

Although called Peruvian Ginseng, Maca is of the Brassicaceae family and is a closer relative of cabbage and kale.

What are the health benefits?

One claim is an increase in libido in men and women and also increased sperm fertility.

I was able to find a few articles claiming the increase in sexual appetite and fertility with Maca but was only able to find a few documented reports.

The most recent was a 2016report which stated there was possible evidence of increased fertility but more rigorous studies were needed.

A 2010 report which suggested possible evidence of increased libido but again, also stated that more rigorous studies were needed.

I was also able to find an older study from 2002 that stated an increase in sexual desire was noted after 8 weeks of regular Maca consumption.

It’s good for memory, alertness, and possible Alzheimer’s Disease

Having been traditionally used by children in Peru to help them in school, some studies have been done to back up this claim.

Some studies with rodents from 2011 have shown an increase in memory and learning with mice.

An additional report in 2014 suggested an effectiveness in combating and treating the conditions that affect these processes such as Alzheimer’s.

Reduction in menopause symptoms

There have been studies that have shown using Maca can help reduce symptoms related to menopause.

In the stage before a woman reaches menopause called perimenopause, a variety of symptoms are caused by a fluctuation of estrogen.

A study published in 2006 found that women who took Maca showed a decrease in symptoms from menopause.

Protection from the sun

Maca can be applied to the skin to help protect from sun damage.

An animal study from 2011 has shown that polyphenol antioxidants and glucosinolates found in Maca helped prevent UV damage and formation of sunburn cells.

Sports performance and energy boost

I found several articles that claimed a wide range of benefits from muscle gain and an increase in strength, an increase in energy, and overall improvement in physical performance.

I could not find anything with a scientific study to confirm the claims of muscle or strength gain.

I did however find one study from 2009 which showed an improvement in time for a small group of cyclists on a 25-mile trek after 14 days of using a Maca supplement.

Risk and Side Effects

Overall the belief is that Maca is safe to consume and add to your daily intake.

Some warnings are stated however for people with thyroid issues.

Because of the goitrogens found within Maca, these compounds are known to interfere with the normal function of the thyroid.

Also, if you listen to the natives of Peru, boiling your Maca is recommended as they believe consuming it raw can have adverse health benefits.

Conclusion

I will always recommend people listen to their own body on most supplements, diets, and meal plans.

Personally, after learning of Maca and trying it out for myself I’ve made the choice in adding it to my diet.

I have not felt or noticed any adverse effects, I have also not noticed any results in regards to strength or gain in muscle.

I have though noticed an increase in libido, overall energy, and endurance during my workouts, so I would definitely add Maca to my list of diet or supplement recommendations.

If anybody has discovered Maca and is using it themselves I’d love to hear some feedback on the pros and cons that you’ve discovered.

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