What Is Maca
The goal of this article is to provide the most comprehensive, up-to-date and complete information on what maca is and how to use it. We are continually adding content to this maca Info page. Where available, click on the links for further information on each topic.
Maca is a plant that originates in the Peruvian Andes and grows at altitudes of 11,000 feet (3500 m) and above. This makes it the highest growing food crop in the world. The maca plant grows in rocky soils, which are commonly inhospitable to most other vegetation. And it thrives in extreme climactic conditions such as freezing cold, intense sunlight and strong winds. The Maca plant produces leaves as well as a small root, about the size of a radish. It is the root that has been treasured for thousands of years due to its medicinal ability to naturally increase energy, endurance and fertility for all people and animals who eat it. No doubt Maca root has made a sustainable work life possible in the very high mountains for generations of indigenous people.
Maca Nutritional Information & Properties (Scientific Data and Description)
Maca (Lepidium meyenni Walpers) is a Peruvian plant growing at elevations over 4000 m 13,000 ft). The plant belongs to the brassica (mustard) family and the Lepidum genus. It's closest relatives are rapeseed, mustard, turnip and cabbage. Maca is a low growing, rosette-like plant with a large underground organ (root). It grows 10-20 cm in height and its root averages 15 cm in circumference.
The history of the ancient maca plant dates back all the way to the 1500’s. It has been used for centuries in the Andes for nutrition and to enhance the fertility of both humans and animals. Maca was probably domesticated between 1300 and 2000 years ago in San Blas, Junin (present day Peru) by Incan farmers. The first written account of the root comes from Cieza de Leon (1553). In 1653, Spanish priest Cobo referred to the use of the root for fertility and as a stimulant. In the central Andes, maca continues to be used as a daily source of food after it has been dried at greater than 20 grams per day.
Maca Nutrition Facts
Maca has powerful nutritional benefits. Dried maca roots nutritional content consists of 13-16% protein, 8.5% fiber, 19 essential amino acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D, minerals iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, potassium, calcium, several glucosinolates, 20 free fatty acids, and unique compounds called macaenes and macamides. Beyond that, Maca is one of only a handful of foods considered to be an "adaptogen," or a food that raises overall life force energy.
How Maca Works
Maca is a nutritional powerhouse that is dense in amino acids, vitamins and minerals. It is also an adaptogen, which means that it supports overall health and strength. Research has revealed that maca works to boost the overall physical functioning of the body as well as to lift mood.
Maca and Hormones
Maca is considered to be very beneficial for hormone balancing, endocrine and thyroid function enhancement and even immune system enhancement. These benefits are most likely related to its high content of amino acids. Hormones are constructed of amino acids and cholesterol.
Maca as an Adaptogen
Maca root, like ginseng, is also an adaptogen. Adaptogens are substances that raise the physical body’s state of resistance to diseases through physiological health and emotional health improvements. These effects make maca a broad-based superfood that in many cases is able to balance and rejuvenate overwhelmed, tired adrenal glands and other aspects of the hormonal system, unlike coffee which stresses the adrenal glands. Over time, use of maca can lead to several benefits including greater energy, stamina, improved mood, and the ability to handle stress.
One of the most common questions received from our customers and readers is about how much maca to take. There is a wide variety of information available and not all of it is accurate. That’s why we wrote this article. So what is the correct maca dosage? Before we answer that question, we first have to look at the different kinds of maca available.
How To Use Maca
The most effective way to take Maca powder is to mix it into water or a simple fruit juice and take it on an empty stomach 10-15 minutes before you eat breakfast. Taking Maca on an empty stomach allows it to absorb a bit faster and more thoroughly. For most people it's also fine to mix maca powder in smoothies and other drinks as well as in some kinds of food. Find out more about how to use maca.
Why To Insist On Peruvian Maca
If you’ve done a little bit of research, you probably already know that Maca root originates in the high Andes mountains and is today primarily grown in Peru and Bolivia. What you probably don’t know is that over the past several years, China has also started growing and exporting Maca root products. This article explains the difference between the Perivian maca and Chinese maca and why you should insist on Peruvian maca.
Maca Health Benefits
In our experience, continued, and persistent use of high quality Maca promotes improvement in the hormonal, physical and emotional states of regular people everyday. That said, we've also noticed a significant amount of misleading or hyperbolic information out there in regard to the benefits of taking Maca. That's why we've put together a collection all of our articles that deal with the benefits of Maca. We provide scientific documentation and examples from our experience and claims whenever possible. Read more...
Maca Studies and Research
Many research studies provide evidence of the benefits provided by maca. Over 400 studies of maca (Lepidium meyenii) are indexed on PubMed, the National Library of Medicine alone. Other maca research has also been published – in particular in Peru where maca is from. Please see our Maca Research page for details.