Miraculous Maca Root: for energy, libido, skin health, mental clarity, stress management, and hormone balance. What Can't it Do?!
How do you feel about taking supplements? We usually take them as a general strategy to promote health and avoid disease (hopefully). Or, you may take supplements to make up for what nutrients your diet may be lacking. But, it's rare to actually feel a supplement's effects, so we have to trust they're doing their job. I'm okay with that; you never know what you might prevent!
However, there have been a few supplements I've personally taken that I could genuinely feel working and actually note the real benefits. The biggies are desiccated liver, collagen powder, and maca root powder. My testimony about maca powder (below) is amazing, and it's something I truly know enhances my health and well-being.
(It's no coincidence that these are whole-food based supplements, either. That's because relatively small amounts of whole-food natural supplements, with all of their naturally-occurring synergistic components, are far more potent than high doses of synthetic imitation “vitamins.” No lab can come even close to creating what Mother Nature makes!)
And technically, maca is classified by the FDA as a "flour". So it is actually considered a food (not a supplement) even though it can be taken in pill form. Maca is a truly powerful functional food or "superfood", which can be a health-promoting part of your diet!
So, what is maca?
Maca is an important root vegetable in the mustard family. The root is about the size of a radish. It originates in the Peruvian Andes mountains and grows at altitudes of 11,000 feet (3500 m) and above. Maca root has been treasured for thousands of years due to its ability to increase energy, stamina, and fertility for all people (men and women) and animals who eat it.
Maca is a true nutritional powerhouse. Dried maca root contains 13-16% protein, 8.5% fiber, 19 amino acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and D, the minerals iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, sodium, potassium, calcium, several glucosinolates, 20 free fatty acids, iodine, and unique compounds called macaenes and macamides.
Beyond nutrition, maca is one of only a handful of foods considered to be an "adaptogen," or a food that raises overall life force energy. Adaptogens are substances that raise the physical body’s state of resistance to diseases through both physiological health and emotional health improvements. This makes maca a broad based food that in many cases is able to support and rejuvenate overwhelmed, tired adrenal glands and other aspects of the hormonal system.
Maca root is commonly is dried and made into a powder.
The benefits of maca:
There is plenty of real scientific research on maca that proves its benefits as well as an incredible number of testimonials that detail real-life results.
-- I have been taking maca for over three years. Over that time, I have had more energy (especially on the tennis court), great focus for completing my master's degree, increased libido (and it was good already), and I have been able to decrease my dosage of thyroid medication twice. I also feel like it's helping me and my skin stay youthful. So, I can personally testify that maca has helped me immensely. It didn't work overnight, but with a daily regimen, the benefits for me are noticeable and real.
Which maca to take?
Quality matters! That's why I get my maca from The Maca Team.
They are a family-run company dedicated to providing the best selection of high quality Peruvian maca products. The farming co-ops they work with in Peru use organic practices without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. It is also rigorously tested. All of their products are always fairly traded and GMO-free.
Maca is harvested one time per year - between June and August. And the Maca Team only sells maca from the current year's harvest. It is also packaged in a way that maintains it's potency and freshness.
Before you try maca yourself ...
There are 3 main questions to answer:
1. Which color of maca is best for my specific purpose(s)?
Maca comes in yellow, red, and black (this is from the varying colors of the root).
Or, you get a combination of all 3 colors in the "premium" option. It contains a combination of about 30% red, 40% yellow and 30% black maca roots. The premium is also different from the other macas in that it is processed fresh rather than being sundried first.
The one to pick will depend on your health goals. To figure out which color(s) are best for you, see the chart on the page HERE.
-- I personally prefer the premium maca; that way I get a multitude of benefits.
2. Is raw or gelatinized (pre-cooked) the best maca for me?
Raw Maca products have never been heated above 100F/40C, preserving all of their enzymes and nutrients at peak levels. They are recommended for most people. However, raw maca does cause slight gas or indigestion in about 5% of people.
If you have a sensitive stomach or any other digestive concerns, try using Gelatinized Maca instead. In the gelatinization process, the maca roots are boiled and pressurized to dissolve most starch content. The resulting gelatinized maca powder is easier to digest than raw maca powders. However, all of the enzymes are destroyed and some of the nutrients are altered in the process.
-- I started with the gelatinized maca, then switched to the raw to receive all the possible benefits. Neither has ever given me any stomach upset.
3. Should I use maca powders, maca capsules, or maca extracts?
This is simply a personal preference. They're all great. The one you select will depend on convenience, who is taking the maca, price, and how much you want to take. (See dosage recommendations HERE.) The maca powder option is perhaps the most popular. It has a light nutty taste and is commonly mixed into drinks like smoothies.
-- I use maca powder in my custom made smoothie powder mix. Even on days I don't have a smoothie, I just take it in water.
If you're not sure which color maca to use, try a sample pack:
The benefit from ordering on the Maca Team website is that you can opt to become a member of their Customer Rewards Program for frequent buyers and earn points towards $$ off in the future.
Taking maca on an empty stomach allows it to absorb a bit faster and more thoroughly. The Maca Team website also has a growing collection of Maca Recipes that their customers have shared. They have both raw recipes (since cooking can destroy some of the vital nutrients of raw maca powders) and cooked recipes (for gelatinized maca powders, which have already been heated).
Important Note: No supplement can (nor should) claim to treat or cure any disease or condition. Supplements are just a great tool in a total wellness lifestyle.
Ask your personal health professional if Maca is right for you.
And always remember - you can't supplement your way out of a poor diet. Whole foods & a holistic lifestyle are priority #1.
If hormone balance is your goal: Before you supplement your diet with maca, is it very smart to have hormone lab tests done so you know your present levels. That way you can compare after a few months, gauge how you feel, and see if the maca is working as you hope.
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
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