Scientifically Proven Benefits of Maca (Red, Black or White Maca)

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The Amazing Health Benefits of Maca

Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable that is used as a supplement because of its many health benefits. Maca root is ground into a powder and used to improve male and female sexual function, balance hormones, and boost brain function. Maca root powder also contains many vitamins, amino acids, and beneficial enzymes that promote good health.


Maca root is such a beneficial plant that it has been called the “Peruvian ginseng.” From its humble origins high up in the Andes Mountains, maca is now classed as a superfood in the West.

In this article, you will learn what science says about the true health benefits of taking maca supplements. You will also find out about any potential side effects of maca root.

What is Maca?

Maca (botanical name: Lepidium meyenii) is a vegetable that is native to Peru. Maca belongs to the Brassicaceae family that includes cruciferous vegetables such as the radish, turnip, and Chinese cabbage. (1)

Although Maca is referred to as the Peruvian ginseng because of its many health benefits, it is not related to ginseng.

Maca root comes in white, red, black, and yellow colors, each with its own health benefits. For example, when it comes to maca root benefits for men, some scientific studies suggest that red maca is better for prostate health than other varieties. However, black maca root for men helps to boost sperm production. (2)

Maca root for women has been associated with helping to reduce the complications of the menopause and improving bone density. (2)

Gelatinized maca is raw maca that has been processed to remove much of the starch. This makes maca root powder easier to digest and less likely to give you gas. The nutritional content of regular maca powder and gelatinized maca root is about the same.

Nutritional Value of Maca

Maca root is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, and enzymes. When taking a closer look at the nutritional benefits of maca, it becomes clear why maca is so good for you.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 oz. (28 g) of gelatinized maca root powder contains 91 calories and 2 grams of fiber, which is 8% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of fiber. (3)

However, you don’t take as much as 28 grams of maca daily when taking it as a health supplement. Most manufacturers recommend taking between 1.5 g and 3 g maca powder a day.

One dose of maca powder (1.5 g) contains 6 grams of carbs and trace amounts vitamin C and B-group vitamins. (4)

1 oz. of maca powder also contains 1.7 mg of copper (84% RDI), 4.1 mg of iron (23% RDI), 560 mg potassium (16% RDI), and 70 mg calcium (7% RDI).

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Red maca also contains a type of amino acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Research has shown that the benefits of GABA in red maca include increasing energy, boosting mood, and reducing symptoms of PMS. (5)

Black maca is high in macamides which are a type of fatty acid unique to the maca plant. These beneficial compounds can help reduce blood glucose levels and also improve sexual function in both men and women. (5, 6)

Some studies show that taking 3 grams of maca extract (red or black) can have an overall beneficial effect on sexual health, energy levels, and mood. (5)

Maca is rich in antioxidants

Maca powder also contains powerful antioxidants that promote good health and well-being.

Research into the health benefits of maca has found that it contains antioxidants called polysaccharides. (6) These plant-based antioxidants have free radical scavenging activity that help protect cells from DNA damage. (7)

The Many Health Benefits of Maca

Let’s look in more detail at how to use maca powder and what are the many benefits of taking maca supplements.

Maca Powder Improves Sexual Function in Men and Women

One of the most popular reasons to take maca supplements is to increase libido and sex drive.

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials on maca powder benefits found that maca can improve sexual function. (8)

One trial found that maca root for men at a dose of 1.5 g or 3 g per day helped to improve sexual desire after 8 weeks of treatment. The trial found that maca has an independent effect on sexual desire and the increase in male libido wasn’t due to maca improving mood or testosterone levels. (9)

One randomized double-blind trial found that maca root for women can also alleviate problems associated with sexual dysfunction. Women received 3.5 g of maca powder a day for 6 weeks. Scientists found that maca helped lower anxiety, depression, and sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women. (10)

Another trial found that the optimal dose of maca to improve libido is 3 g of maca supplements a day. (11)

Studies also point to the fact that both red maca and black maca supplements have a positive effect on sexual function. (5)

Learn more about other foods that can increase your sex drive and alleviate problems of sexual dysfunction.

Maca Can Boost Male Fertility

One of the benefits of maca root powder for men is that it can help to improve sperm quality and treat erectile dysfunction. Many studies show that maca root supplements can help to improve male reproductive health.

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One clinical trial involving adult men found that taking between 1.5 g and 3 g of maca powder a day helped to improve semen quality. After 4 weeks of supplementation, researchers found that sperm motility and sperm production was improved. (12)

A systematic review of 5 studies found that maca supplementation for men can help to improve sperm quality in infertile men. (13)

Maca supplements are also good for male sexual health because they help treat erectile dysfunction. One trial on 50 men found that taking 2.4 g of dry maca extract helped to reduce instances of erectile dysfunction over a 12-week period. (14)

Find out what else you can do to improve sperm health naturally and how to make sperm live longer.

Red Maca Can Help Prevent Enlarged Prostate

Taking red maca supplements for men is good to help treat prostate problems.

One trial involving male rats found that red maca extracts helped to treat enlarged prostate (prostatic hyperplasia). Compounds called benzylglucosinolates had a protective effect on the prostate and helped reduce prostate size. (15)

Other trials have shown that red maca is superior to black maca and yellow maca in helping to reduce the size of the prostate in patients with prostatic hyperplasia. (16)

Further reading: Learn about the signs of prostate cancer and symptoms you should never ignore.

Maca Supplements Can Help Balance Hormones After the Menopause

There are also many maca powder benefits for women who have passed the menopause.

A systematic review of 4 randomized clinical trials on the effects of maca on female health found that maca can help alleviate menopausal symptoms. (17)

One way that maca benefits women is that compounds in maca help to balance female hormones after the menopause. A trial involving rats found that maca supplements had an anti-depressive effect and help to balance sex hormones. The scientists noted that maca supplements can benefit the health of both menopausal women and pre-menopausal women. (18)

Pre-gelatinized maca supplements are beneficial to balance hormones in menopausal women. In fact, the results of research suggest that pre-gelatinized maca could be a natural hormone-replacement therapy for the menopause. Taking pre-gelatinized maca also helped to lower blood pressure, body weight, and increase iron levels. (19)

Apart from taking maca for the menopause, learn about many other natural supplements that help prevent complications in the menopause.

Black Maca Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

One of the benefits of taking black maca capsules if you have diabetes is that maca powder can help to lower serum glucose levels.

A 2016 study involving adults found that taking 3 grams of black maca helps to lower glucose levels in the blood. (5) Other trials on animal subjects have also shown that black maca extracts help to lower blood fats and regulate blood glucose levels. (20)

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Learn about other foods that control blood glucose levels.

Maca Supplements Promote Good Bone Health

You can take 2 grams of maca a day to help improve bone health and prevent the complications associated with brittle bones.

A study involving menopausal women found that taking 2 g maca root powder a day improved bone density over a 4-month period. Scientists noted that taking pre-gelatinized maca supplements early in the menopause helps balance hormones, prevent hot flushes, and night sweats. (21)

Other animal trials have found that maca supplementation positively affects hormone levels and helps prevent bone density loss in the menopause. (22)

If you are approaching the menopause, find out what else you can do to prevent osteoporosis.

Maca Root Powder Increases Energy Levels and Stamina

One of the many health benefits of taking maca supplements is that maca can help reduce feelings of tiredness and fatigue.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported on a trial involving the effect of gelatinized maca on stamina. Scientists noted that gelatinized and fermented maca help to increase the length of time mice could swim. They suggested that maca can increase stamina and promote post-exercise recovery. (23)

Other studies on humans have confirmed that taking black maca or red mace can increase energy levels. (5)

Further reading: Find other foods that boost your energy.

Maca May Lower Blood Pressure

The benefits of maca powder for men and women involve helping to reduce hypertension and protect your cardiovascular health.

Research into the cardiovascular benefits of maca has found that maca contains enzymes that act similarly to blood pressure medication (ACE inhibitors). These important antioxidants can help prevent hypertension. (24)

One study involving 50 men and women living in the Andes found that maca supplementation helped to lower systolic blood pressure. (25)

Other studies have shown that taking 3.3 g of maca a day can help to significantly lower diastolic blood pressure. (26)

Find out how to prevent the damage that hypertension does to your body by using natural home remedies to lower blood pressure.

Black Maca May Improve Brain Function

You can take black maca to help boost your cognitive abilities and protect the health of your brain.

One trial on the effects of maca on the learning ability of mice found that maca prevents cognitive impairment. Mice who were treated with maca extracts showed better scores when it came to memory and learning ability. Scientists put the brain-boosting potential of black maca down to its levels of antioxidants. (26)

Some studies suggest that black maca extracts help to positively affect neurotransmitters in the brain and can help treat the effects of memory impairment. (27)

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Learn about other herbs and foods that boost your brain function and may even help improve your memory naturally.

Maca Can Boost Your Mood and Lower Anxiety

Maca is a natural mood enhancer that can not only help boost your brain function but also increase feelings of well-being.

The journal Menopause reported that taking 3.5 grams of maca a day can help to relieve feelings of anxiety and depression over a 12-week period. (10)

One study published in 2015 found that regularly taking maca powder helps to reduce symptoms of depression in postmenopausal women. (28)

Studies on mice show that the antidepressant effect of black maca is due to phytoestrogens like quercetin. (29)

Learn about the best serotonin supplements that can help improve your mood and may prevent depression. If you suffer from depression, you can also try some natural antidepressants.

Maca Extracts Can Protect Your Skin from UV Radiation Damage

Maca contains polyphenols which are antioxidants that help protect your skin cells from sunburn damage.

A small trial showed that topically applying maca extracts to the skin of mice protected their skin against UV radiation damage. The researchers concluded that medicinal properties in maca have potential use in treatments for sunburn-related UV exposure. (30)

Find out the best ways to treat sunburn and help quickly alleviate painful red blistered skin.

How to Use Maca

There are many ways you can add maca to supplement your diet and enjoy its health benefits.

Maca root is sold as dehydrated powder (like this one) or flour that you can add to your favorite smoothies, juices, soups, salads, desserts, and other foods.

Although Andean Peruvians eat it as a staple food without any adverse effects, it has been recommended to introduce maca powder to your diet gradually and start with small amounts. This allows you to observe your body’s reaction and adjust the dose (or stop taking it) if you notice any unwanted effects. Always try to purchase organic maca to make sure it is pesticide free.

Initially, take ½ teaspoon of maca powder daily and build up to 1 tablespoon, which is an average daily dose. As with some other supplements, you can have some days without it, so rotate between on and off days.

If you’re pregnant, breast feeding or have any medical condition consult with your doctor first.

You can also use maca as a supplement that comes in capsules (like this one). For example, some maca capsules contain 2.5 g maca powder that are taken once or twice a day.

How Much Maca to Take Daily

There is no standard dose of taking maca for its health benefits. Many of the scientific trials involving using maca as a health supplement use around 3 g of maca per day.

Some manufacturers recommend taking 1.5 g of maca a day.

How Long Before Maca Takes Effect

Some websites suggest that you will experience the beneficial effects of maca supplements as soon as 3 or 4 weeks after taking the supplements.

Many of the scientific research studies in this article have shown that you could feel the benefits of taking maca for improved sexual health after 6 or 8 weeks.

Other studies have shown that maca helps to improve brain function and has an anti-depressant effect after around 12 weeks.

However, some other trials have shown that the benefits of maca on bone health are experienced after around 4 months of supplementation.

Side Effects of Maca Supplements

Maca root supplements have many health benefits and are generally safe to take on a long-term basis.

According to doctors on WebMD, maca root powder doesn’t have any significant side effects. Most studies show that taking up to 3,000 mg (3 gram) maca per day for 4 months can be tolerated by most people. (31)

However, maca can have an estrogen-like effect in the body and you should avoid taking maca supplements if you have breast cancer or cancer in the reproductive organs.

Other possible side effects

  • Jittery feeling – This can happen if you consume too much and experience an excessive energizing effect. If it happens, reduce the dose.
  • Insomnia – To avoid difficulty sleeping, take maca before 1 PM. If insomnia occurs, reduce the dose.
  • Digestive problems – Some mild cramping and gassiness can happen if you consume maca in its raw form (raw powder). If you have a sensitive stomach, opt for the gelatinized form instead. In this form, maca is heated under pressure for a few seconds, which makes it more easily digestible.
  • Acne – This can be an initial reaction and will pass on its own; it’s a sign of a hormonal rebalancing. In the long run, maca should improve the skin’s condition and clear it.
  • Heartburn – If you experience this side effect, reduce the dose or opt for the gelatinized form.

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4 Responses to Scientifically Proven Benefits of Maca (Red, Black or White Maca)

  1. Maria says:

    Is it safe if your have diabetes and if your a older person.

    • Jenny says:

      It is always suggested that people with special conditions and/or people who take medications will consult their doctor before taking any natural or herbal supplement to make sure it does not interfere with their current medications.

  2. rob says:

    I took Maca for a long time and experienced no bad side affects, but only good affects. It also helps treat depression, and got rid of my deep depression fast. It gave me this energy, I can’t explain it other than to say you don’t feel worn out any longer. It also did not affect my sleep and I was always an insomniac, and my sleep was easily affected. It really helped my libido, so I stopped taking it after I started dating again to avoid pregnancy, because it makes you very fertile.

  3. JKM says:

    It gives you energy and helps balance hormones. When I had acne spreading on my face at age 40 which I never had in my entire life I suspected hormonal imbalance. I took Maca powder for 3 months, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, Royal jelly and Bee Propolis. Now my skin is acne free. I continue to take maca as an immune system booster.

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