The herbal supplement industry is big business, and it makes a lot of claims, especially when it comes to elements like men’s health. One supplement that gets promoted a lot is maca, which is marketed as a product for sexual health. Maca root is made from a plant that grows in South America, specifically Bolivia and Peru. In fact, it is often referred to as “Peruvian ginseng.” 1
Stereotypically, it is women who are the biggest market for herbal remedies and essential oils, but there are some men’s health complaints that are the target of aggressive marketing, and there are some issues that men do need to be particularly mindful of, such as heart disease, stress, and metabolic syndromes.
Men face a number of health challenges and being proactive about leading a healthy lifestyle is a must if you want to give yourself the best possible future.2 Outlined below is an overview of how herbal remedies and supplements, such as maca, can fit into a healthy regimen.
Benefits of Maca for Men’s Health
There are several ways that maca root can help improve your overall health and well-being:
Potentially Improves Fertility
Studies show that maca root can improve the quantity of sperm that a man produces, and the motility of that sperm as well.3 If you are planning to start a family and want to balance the odds in your favor, then taking maca root early on could be a good “natural” option. Fertility issues can affect both men and women, and simple changes can help you ensure that you have the best chances of conceiving a child naturally.
Acts as an Aphrodisiac
Even if you aren’t interested in starting a family just yet, you may be interested to learn that maca root can help improve your sex drive. There are studies which back up the idea of maca root as a virility booster, although whether it does so by boosting testosterone or through boosting other health markers requires additional research.4
People who have been struggling with low mood, stress, or anxiety may benefit from taking maca root. One recent study looked at the impact of maca root on postmenopausal women and found that the root could help improve mood and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety.5 While the study was focused on women, the same benefits could apply to men too, since maca root is rich in flavonoids, which are thought to be beneficial as mood boosters.
If you’re an athlete, or just slightly sporty, then you may be interested in maca root’s potential as a performance enhancer. The root can help improve endurance, and there have been studies about the effects of maca on long-distance swimmers, as well as on cyclists, both of which showed that the root appeared to have beneficial effects.6,7
How To Consume Maca
If you are interested in trying maca root as a health food, then there are a few things that you should know. First, while it is called “maca root,” it actually belongs to the Brassica family of vegetables, and it is a good idea to cook it before you consume it. You can bake it or boil it and then make a mashed-maca dish which is similar to mashed potatoes.
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If you don’t want to have to bother with the preparation, then you can by powdered maca. There are two varieties of this, one which is simply the dried powder, and the other which is called gelatinized maca (although it is still a powder). The gelatinized version has had the proteins and fiber removed but leaves behind the important nutrients that maca is touted for.
Is Maca Root Safe?
Maca root is generally considered to be safe when consumed as a food or in the doses that most people would use a supplement. However, Maca extracts could be dangerous to people who have health conditions which may be made worse by exposure to estrogen, since there are some substances in the extract that behave like estrogen.
This is more of a concern for women who are at an increased risk of breast cancer, for example. If you are taking medication which could interact with an estrogenic substance or you have a pre-existing health condition, consult your doctor before taking maca extract.8
For most other people, however, maca is generally considered to be safe. Powdered maca extract is rich in vitamins and minerals—including B1, copper, iron, and manganese—and contains a moderate amount of fiber and carbohydrates, making it a great addition to your diet.9 Of course, no one supplement is going to completely solve all health issues, but maca root has a lot of promise for men who are struggling with energy and virility, even young and healthy men who need an energy boost precisely because they are so active.
If you are looking for a way to improve your sex drive and to find more energy, then making small changes to your diet is a good starting point. If you are struggling with serious fatigue and a lack of energy that goes beyond what you would think of as “normal,” however, then it is strongly recommended that you consult a doctor.
There are many serious health conditions that can start with minor symptoms such as fatigue and low libido, and it is worth getting yourself checked out so that you have the peace of mind that you’re not struggling with something more serious. Once you have the all-clear from your doctor, however, using maca as a supplement to enhance your overall health and well-being could be a great option for you.
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