Maca powder has been called a "superfood". That means it's a food with very high nutritional value. It's a plant in the cruciferous vegetable family (the same family as broccoli and kale) that grows in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Maca root is a good and healthy source of dietary fiber and minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron, copper and zinc. It's also a good source of essential fatty acids that are vital for health. Maca is higher in protein than many plant-based foods. Maca has been cultivated as a vegetable crop and used for thousands of years to increase fertility in humans and animals. Some research shows maca may enhance sexual function in people by increasing sexual desire but evidence is still limited and needs further investigation. The way maca enhances sexual desire is still unknown. It seems to work without changing male sex hormones like testosterone. Does it improve sexual function in women? Some researchers believe that maca may enhance sexual desire in women going through menopause and help with some of the mood changes associated with menopause. However, more studies are needed to confirm benefits for these uses. Maca has also been used to reduce fatigue and increase stamina and energy and boost athletic performance. More research is needed in these areas since its effectiveness is not yet proven. Maca is also a natural source of chemicals that exhibit anti-cancer properties in animal studies. These chemicals are similar to those in other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli. Maca may inhibit the growth of some types of cancers in animals but little research has been done to look at its anti-cancer benefits in humans.
Is Maca Safe?
The long-term effects of taking maca are unknown. Since maca is a plant that falls into the cruciferous vegetable family, it's likely safe at recommended doses. However, its safety has not been widely studied. If you plan on taking a maca supplement as part of your diet, check with your doctor first. Maca doesn't appear to interact with medications or have significant side effects but it's a good idea to get your doctor's approval before taking any supplement.
This summary is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of purity, strength, or safety of the products. As a result, effects may vary. You should read product labels. In addition, if you are taking medications, herbs, or other supplements you should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before taking a supplement as supplements may interact with other medications, herbs, and nutritional products. If you have a medical condition, including if you are pregnant or nursing, you should speak to your physician before taking a supplement. Consult a healthcare provider if you experience side effects.