Every once in a while, a food comes to light we may not be familiar with but in another part of the world it is revered for it’s ‘superfood’ qualities. Maca is one such food. If you haven’t heard of it, there are reasons you may want to know what it is and why people are looking to it for everything from increased energy to regulation of hormones and increased fertility.
Maca originates from high in the Peruvian Andes Mountains of South America where it has been growing wild for thousands of years. It is a cruciferous plant as are other healthy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and turnips.
A significant number of vitamins and minerals are inherent to wild maca. These include calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, sodium, as well as iron and may also contain beneficial trace minerals including zinc, iodine, copper, selenium, and manganese. It is also thought to be high in vitamins B1, B2, C, and E.
Maca’s purported health benefits are based on generations of people who have used it. It has thus gained some serious attention by natural health enthusiasts in North America. For those who have used maca whether in the Andes or elsewhere, the benefits are said to include:
- Increased Energy Many athletes have now started taking maca for peak performance. if your energy levels are low, maca may be worth a try.
- Increased Libido Maca is thought to increase sexual function in both men and women. Balanced hormone, endurance and stamina are cited among the benefits benefitting libido. Watch this clip on CNN which reports on the benefits specifically to women.
- Menstrual cramps/Menopause Maca is considered beneficial in aiding with menstrual cramps. As well menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings and even depression can be alleviated.
- Fertility It has been noted that where maca grows is so high above sea level that animals brought to those heights from lower altitudes will stop reproducing. However if you feed them maca, they become fertile again. It’s as though nature offers a fertility remedy at those high altitudes. More on this can be seen in this New York times clip.
- Adaptogen Maca is considered an adaptogen meaning it can help strengthen the body so it can better handle daily stresses and resist disease.
Always use a reputable source for your maca supplements and follow the manufacturers recommended dosage. It’s a good idea to consider running a new supplement by your medical doctor if you have a condition you are trying to remedy. But many do choose to try natural remedies over pharmaceuticals initally. And as with any supplement its not recommended to start something new while pregnant.