By now, you’ve surely heard of the term “superfood.”
All-powerful, almost mythical substances that can give you god-like abilities and keeps you from aging.
You’ll never die, bench press double your body weight, and be the peak of health 24/7…
…Ok, not really.
Best Maca Supplements
Capsules and Powders:
- NaturaLife Labs Maca (capsule)
- Viva Naturals Organic Root Maca (capsule)
- Terrasoul Superfoods Maca Powder (powder)
- Healthworks Maca (powder)
But superfoods are indeed beneficial to your health.
Over-exaggeration aside, there are certain exotic or underappreciated foods that can do wonders for you.
One of them is maca root.
While not necessarily new to the scene, maca has only just hit the limelight, becoming a favorite for Ayurvedic health junkies and bodybuilders alike.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into maca.
What is it, what are the benefits, is it better to use a capsule or powder, what does maca do to the body, and what is the most effective way to take maca?
Also, we’ll explore the top maca supplements available to you today so you can find the right maca for you.
Without further delay, let’s learn about some maca!
What is Maca Root?
Maca is a root vegetable (scientific name Lepidium meyenii) that is actually a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli or kale.
It’s native to the Andes Mountains in Peru.
Maca looks like a radish or turnip but the roots have different colors, from yellow to purple to black.
Surprisingly, the root tastes amazing. Usually altered to a powder form, maca can be used in cooking or supplemented via powder or capsule.
It is also known as an “adaptogen,” or a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and aids in normalizing body processes.
This is incredibly useful for when you have a demanding job, a change in schedule, or – ding ding! – you lift weights and train like crazy.
Technically speaking, maca is chock full of amazing ingredients, including:
- 8 essential amino acids and 16 non-essential amino acids
- Thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin C, vitamin E, and other vitamins
- Magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, sulfur, sodium, iron, and other minerals
- Fatty acids like lauric, linolenic, palmitic, oleic, and stearic acid
It also can contain a decent amount of protein; it’s nutrient profile can be up to 16% protein.
What is Maca Used For?
One of the kings of the superfoods, maca root is used for a ton of healthy purposes.
The root is specifically used in medicine; you can take it for multiple kinds of ailments that are a result of stress. This is why maca root is known as an adaptogen.
Maca can also be used in cooking. It can be eaten as a root – like a potato or radish – through baking or roasting.
You can make it the base of a soup, as well as the base of a blended drink. (You may have noticed the increase in drinks like maca smoothies and maca lattes.)
Another interesting use for maca root is in agriculture; farmers use it to increase the fertility of their livestock.
To get deep into what maca is literally made of, it contains fatty acids and amino acids your body needs to rebuild and stay lubricated in your joints.
So there are numerous ways maca could work within your body.
Maca Supplement Benefits
As a supplement, maca can be a powerful ally to your health and fitness goals. Here are some of the few benefits you get with supplementing maca:
- Weight loss: When you’re stressed, it has an impact on metabolism and burning fat. Maca root reduces cortisol levels, includes a fair amount of nearly-complete protein, and provides ample doses of quality carbohydrates – three things that have a direct effect on losing fat.
- Muscle gain: Those carbohydrates in maca? They are comprised mostly of slow-burn starches, lignans, and cellulose fiber. All of these help keep your energy levels high (more later) during gruelling workouts, giving you better performance in the gym. Plus, the numerous essential and non-essential amino acids build up your muscles.
- Improved mood: Seeing as maca’s an adaptogen, it should have an adverse response to additional stress. Specifically, maca root reduces anxiety and depression, particularly in women who have menopause (more below). This is due to the flavonoids, which are plant compounds that elevate mood and acts as an anti-inflammatory, scavenges free radicals, and keeps you psychologically healthy.
- Boost sports performance and energy: This root improves energy in multiple ways, including reducing cortisol, enhances energy levels during workouts, and increases endurance performance. While scientific evidence is still in its infancy for maca root, there was one study that showed how much effect it could potentially have on athletic endurance.
- Natural sunblock: Recent research has discovered that putting maca root powder or the equivalent on your skin could protect you from harmful UV radiation. In essence, it’s an all-natural sunscreen, baby! The “polyphenol antioxidants and glucosinolates found in maca” is probably the reason why it’s so successful in blocking UV rays.
- Increase memory and learning: The black maca root, in particular, could improve memory impairment, as well as increase learning. Various animal studies have shown this important benefit, though the reason why is still being discovered.
While these are impressive on their own, there are even more benefits related to maca root depending on your gender…
Maca Supplements For Men
As a supplement for males, maca can provide even more advantages:
- Enhanced libido: The high nutrient content within maca root revitalizes the entire human body. On top of that, it increases natural testosterone production (more later) by upping energy and stamina. Lastly, maca is full of macaenes and macamides that are attributed to having a healthier libido.
- Increased fertility: In Peru, the origin of maca, the root is still used as a prescription to couples who want to conceive. Also, studies have shown that black maca raises sperm count, sperm motility, and sex drive.
- Help with erectile dysfunction: Again, black maca – and other maca variations – help increase blood circulation. Paired with a raised libido, this reverses the effects of erectile dysfunction.
- Decreased prostate size: Certain studies and personal testimonies have shown that red maca is particularly efficient at reducing prostate size in males, both rats and humans. Men with enlarged prostates, or hyperplasia, or at risk for prostate cancer would do well to include maca root into their normal diet.
- Boost in testosterone: Finally, the one most of you are all here for, maca root is an anabolic food (a.k.a. it helps you build muscle). This is due to the amount of bioavailable protein within maca, as well as improving energy levels. Black maca specifically has been known empirically to aid professional athletes in their performance and muscle growth.
Maca Supplements For Women
As for the ladies, maca has its fair share of perks:
- Alleviate symptoms of menopause: Because maca has a profound effect in cortisol levels and its high nutrient content profile basically stabilizes hormones in your body, maca helps women in menopause. The symptoms are significantly reduced and pain is relieved when maca root is introduced into the routine.
- Enhanced libido: Just like with the guys, the gals get a boost in sexual function. Similar to the menopause issue, maca helps women increase their libido based on clinical case studies, the same as with men. Seeing as reduced sexual function is a common problem with aging adults, it’s imperative that we all get enough nutrition to keep our bodies in top form.
- Reduced pain with osteoarthritis: Maca assists in maintaining healthy bone density. For women who have a history of osteoporosis or osteoarthritis after or during menopause could avoid this dilemma by simply including maca into their regimen.
- Potent aphrodisiac: This is for both men and women, but maca could potentially be a powerful “sex food.” Other than increasing libido, fertility, and sexual function, the zinc, iodine, and essential fatty acids adds to a better mood and normalized sex hormones. All of this combines into one discernible conclusion: Arousal is imminent.
Can Maca Make You Gain Weight?
As a food, maca is not calorically dense enough (35 calories in 3 tsp) to stimulate weight gain. However, it does three distinct things that will lead to muscle growth:
- It’s anabolic, which helps your body build up (rather than break down, or catabolic) your organs and tissue, specifically muscle tissue;
- Balances hormones, which allows nutrients and processes to be optimized, including muscle growth;
- Increases appetite, which allows you to eat more, which in turn will cause you to grow (one way or another).
So…yes and no.
Can Maca Increase Estrogen Levels?
This is another yes-and-no answer.
While it might cause estrogen levels to rise, it really depends on which hormones are out-of-whack in your body.
That is, if you are hormonally low in estrogen, maca will rebalance your estrogen level until it gets back to a healthy line.
The fact that maca is an adaptogenic herb s really powerful for women, as it can actually level out estrogen during their menstrual cycles.
This translates to “less mood swings, fluid retention, and breast tenderness.”
If you’re a male, you need some minimal amount of estrogen as well, in order to function properly as a human being.
Maca should stabilize your estrogen levels, whether that means increasing or decreasing this specific hormone.
Maca Powder vs. Maca Capsules
As with most supplements, the capsule vs. powder debate with maca root comes down to personal preference.
Do you like the taste of powder mixed with water or another beverage? Maca powder doesn’t taste much like anything, and the consistency isn’t gritty (i.e. it mixes well).
Also, do you want it in the gym with you? If so, perhaps powder is easier than capsules, or vice versa. You can also use powder in cooking or smoothies.
As for cost, the price per serving is usually in favor of the powder. All of this – taste/consistency, convenience, and price – will ultimately determine your decision. (Because it’s truly up to you).
Which Color Maca Powder is Best?
There are three main colors of maca: Red, black, and yellow.
Red Maca Powder
Red maca powder is made from light pink and dark purple roots, and has the highest phytonutrient content of all the variations.
For general hormone balancing, female fertility, and bone/prostate health, this is the best bang for your buck. (It also tastes sweet compared to the others.)
Black Maca Powder
Black maca powder is made from light grey and dark grey roots, and is rare in terms of total maca production.
The benefits of black maca include increased muscle building, endurance, mental focus, male libido, and male fertility. Athletic Muscle athletes, take note.
Yellow Maca Powder
Yellow maca powder comes from white and yellow roots, and is the most commonly used and studied version of maca.
Traditionally less expensive, yellow maca powder also elevates energy, increases concentration, and still balances hormones effectively.
Read over the benefits of each, then make your personal choice.
Everybody has their own goal; therefore, they have their own optimized form of maca.
Gelatinized vs. Raw Powder
The difference is raw maca powder has never been heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
More likely, it has been sun-dried and then ground into powder. Basically, raw maca hasn’t been cooked.
Gelatinized maca powder has been heated to remove the starch content. The heating process destroys some of the nutrients, but it makes it easier to digest.
Normally, gelatinized has a 4:1 ratio: It takes 4 kg of raw maca powder to create 1 kg of gelatinized.
If you have a regular digestive system without problems, opt for the raw powder. If, however, you have trouble digesting some things, go for the gelatinized version.
What you lose in enzyme power you gain in being able to digest the maca at all.
Maca Supplement Dosage
The general consensus is you don’t need too much: A daily intake between 1.5 and 3 grams for maca extracts should do the trick.
If you use powdered maca root or the root as a whole, you can have anywhere between 10 and 40 grams each day.
When you go over this amount supplementing (1.5-3 g, or 0.5-1 tsp), you start to experience side effects (more below).
When to Take:
If you want the maca to absorb fast, consuming it on an empty stomach (before you break your fast that day) will be the most beneficial.
You can either take the full dosage in the morning, before food, or you can space out the amount throughout the day.
You can also take it in the early afternoon, where our hormones naturally dip to their lowest part.
Keep in mind, though: Maca energizes you. Same as caffeine or ginseng, don’t consume it too late or you won’t go to sleep when night comes.
For the optimal results, avoid taking after 2 P.M.
How Long Does It Take To Work?
It usually takes 10-14 days for the effects of maca to be seen and felt. Sometimes it takes longer. This will depend on your personal biology.
For the best results, maintain a consistent, continuous routine of getting enough maca daily.
That way, you can experience benefits quickly and effectively.
Maca Supplement Side Effects
Side effects are still a thing with maca; they occur when you take too much of it in a day or a sitting.
For the most part, though, maca is generally considered safe.
Peruvians suggest boiling the root instead of consuming raw maca root, as this may have adverse effects.
Another group of people who should be wary of maca are those who have thyroid issues. This is due to the goitrogens in the maca, or substances that interfere with normal thyroid function.
And – of course – pregnant or breastfeeding women should always consult their doctor before taking maca root in any form.
As for the side effects when you take too much:
- You could get the jitters (simply lower the dosage if this occurs)
- Slight chance of upset stomach (this is where gelatinized maca or maca extract is a suitable substitute)
- Potential insomnia (take in the morning – at least before 2 P.M. – if this happens)
- Increase in acne (temporary adjustment to balancing hormones; will lessen and disappear over the first few weeks)
- Small percentage chance of heartburn (switch to gelatinized maca powder or mix it with food to help with the digestive process)
As you can see, all of these side effects can be monitored and eradicated by tweaking your maca routine.
Top Maca Supplement Reviews
NaturaLife Labs Maca
First up on our list is a maca capsule from NaturaLife Labs. Made from organic maca root, this capsule is as natural and straightforward as it gets.
This top-rated company in the supplement industry is all about providing the best quality products; this maca supplement is no exception.
Each 2-capsule dose nets you 1.9 grams of maca – right in the sweet spot. And with 75 total servings, you’re set for a few months without running out!
The only other ingredient is plant cellulose as a vegetarian capsule, so you know you aren’t getting any filler additives.
Just pure maca root powder. It’s gelatinized and totes a combination of black, red, and yellow maca root powders.
If you want zero BS and all high-quality maca root benefits, NaturaLife has got your back.
Viva Naturals Organic Root Maca
Next we have another capsule from Viva Naturals. Also organic and gelatinized for “enhanced bioavailability,” this pill is 100% maca.
This bottle is a bit bigger, giving you 250 capsules. However, the serving per pill is 0.5 grams, which means you’ll want at least three capsules daily.
Thankfully, this still gives you 80+ days of maca supplementation.
Viva Naturals Organic Root Maca also has a vegetarian capsule, plus ascorbyl palmitate as an antioxidant additive.
If you aren’t too stingy on extra materials in your capsule, this is a bargain supplement with great-for-you organic maca root.
For all the benefits and minimal fluff, give Viva Naturals maca capsule a try for yourself.
Terrasoul Superfoods Maca Powder
Heading into powder territory, we have this amazing product from the bros over at Terrasoul Superfoods.
What’s great about this supplement in particular is you don’t need much and it gives you a massive amount of servings.
This is pulverized maca root, plain and simple. No other ingredients.
The 0.5 tsp serving nets you 2 grams, and there’s a whopping 227 servings! Plus, you can get it in either gelatinized or raw – your choice.
If you’re going to trust anyone with providing you top-notch superfoods, it better be a superfoods company.
Terrasoul is dedicated to their customers, sending out USDA-certified, organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan maca powder.
By far one of the best maca root powder supplements in the market, you can’t go wrong with Terrasoul Superfoods Maca Powder.
Last up is yet another raw, organic, Peruvian maca root powder, this time from the people at Healthworks.
The cool aspect about this brand and product is that this is the only purely-raw supplement on our list.
Their serving size is a full teaspoon, which gets you roughly 5 grams of maca.
While that’s a tad excessive, you can easily halve the serving size and gain a crazy 360+ servings! (That’s enough for the entire year.)
This 2-pound bag lasts you with a resealable bag, as well as give
s you a delicious recipe on the back.
Also certified by the USDA, you can be sure this maca is from Peru and 100% maca root powder.
Finally, another fantastic fact about Healthworks is they strive to show you how easy it is to implement this adaptogen into your normal cooking and baking.
If you have a strong digestive system and want a raw maca root powder from an established supplement company, Healthworks Maca Powder is your new best friend.
Maca is an adaptogenic superfood that’s almost too good to be true. Balanced hormones, increased libido, a testosterone booster, and it can be used as food? Sign us up!
Look over the previous sections to determine which form of maca is right for you, then create a dosage and regimen surrounded by one of the supplements off of our list.
Trust us: Your new superfood friend will “maca” you better! (We’re “root”-ing for you!)