Maca Benefits Explored: How This Superfood Enhances Your Well-Being

Maca Benefits Explored: How This Superfood Enhances Your Well-Being

Maca root is a plant that really packs a punch health-wise. Also known as Peruvian ginseng, it’s been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years and is now a popular supplement, surging by 55% from May 2019 to May 2023. This is mainly thanks to its many health benefits for menopause, fertility, libido, mood and bone health.

We know what you’re probably thinking. ‘Oh great — another supplement.’ Do you really need to add it to your daily health routine? What are maca’s benefits?

Read on as we dive into the science to discover if the hype behind maca’s recent popularity explosion is warranted, including maca’s benefits, how it works in the body and who should and shouldn’t take it.

What is maca?

Maca can be traced all the way back to the Incan Empire, where its root was used for its nutritional value as a source of food, as well as for its health properties.

Cultivated as a root vegetable for over 3,000 years, maca was traditionally used to treat rheumatic disease and respiratory conditions.

Maca is a relative of the humble radish that smells similar to butterscotch and is indigenous to the Andes Mountains, but is now grown worldwide. It can be ground into a powder and added to meals and is a common cooking ingredient in Peru.

How does maca work in the body?

Maca is essentially a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli, cabbage or kale. It contains fibre, vitamins and minerals that are thought to provide various health benefits.

A large part of maca’s activity in the body takes place in the recently discovered endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short, which regulates and controls many critical bodily functions, including sleep, memory and inflammatory and immune responses.

This has been attributed to bioactive molecules in maca called macamides. Macamides are long-chain fatty acids made that have energy-boosting, fertility-enhancing and neuroprotective effects and are almost identical in structure to the natural cannabinoids in our brain.

Macamides also protect anandamide in the body, a fatty acid neurotransmitter, contributing to a more resilient nervous system.

Benefits of maca: what is maca good for?

Maca benefits for sexual health

Maca is best known for its sexual health benefits in both men and women alike. These include reducing erectile dysfunction, increasing the libido and enhancing fertility.

Studies show that maca increases libido in men after eight weeks of taking 1.5-3 grams every day compared to those who received the placebo.

A 2009 study that looked at the effects of a daily 2.4mg dose over the course of 12 weeks also highlighted that maca root was potentially beneficial in men with erectile dysfunction.

Additionally, a small 2001 study found that maca improved semen production in men who consumed maca daily over four months, and a 2020 study found that a daily dose of 2 grams improved sperm concentration.

However, more research is still needed, as there wasn't a significant difference in sperm motility between placebo and treatment groups.

Maca's sexual health benefits aren't just restricted to men. Maca root’s benefits for females include reducing antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women.

Can maca root get you pregnant?

If you’re trying to boost your chances of getting pregnant or have been trying to conceive for a while, taking a maca supplement could help.

As we’ve already seen, research shows potential benefits in enhancing sexual health and fertility in men, like improving sperm count. This increases fertility and leads to improved chances of conception.

One study also confirmed that the traditional use of maca can enhance female fertility. Therefore, maca benefits women who are trying to conceive.

Another 2019 study found that taking maca alongside other natural remedies could improve ovulation in fertile women. However, scientific research on maca benefits for women’s fertility is limited.

Maca benefits for energy levels

Maca is commonly taken to fight fatigue and improve energy levels without the unwanted jitters of caffeine. While evidence is still limited, some small studies have shown that macca has potentially energy-producing effects.

A 2022 study showed that maca extract reduced fatigue in young adults and women, and a small study involving 175 people found that participants who took 3 grams of maca for 12 weeks repeated a boost of energy.

Additionally, another 2009 study found that male cyclists improved their performance when taking maca for 14 days, although it’s important to note that the results were not significantly different compared to those taking the placebo.

Maca benefits for mood

Maca has adaptogenic qualities and is rich in flavonoids, meaning it can help the body manage stress and might be especially helpful for those with anxiety or depression.

It does this by balancing the body’s HPA axis, responsible for how our nervous and hormone systems respond to stress.

Maca helps regulate the stress hormone cortisol, preventing it from rising, as well as dopamine and serotonin to improve mood. Further research also found that maca reduced anxiety and depression in two separate studies in postmenopausal women.

Maca benefits for hormonal balance

Maca root holds benefits for females in particular. Thanks to its adaptogenic properties, maca may help with hormonal balance, boost libido, increase fertility and alleviate menopausal symptoms.

It's thought that maca does this by nourishing the glands in the endocrine system, like the pituitary gland, and promoting the normal secretion of women's hormones essential for fertility. One study confirmed that maca positively affected hormone-balancing function in early-postmenopausal women.

Moreover, maca's protective effect on the body from producing an excess of the stress hormone cortisol can directly benefit women's hormonal health. High cortisol levels lower oestrogen in the body, which regulates menstruation, maintains the reproductive system and affects thyroid hormones.

Maca benefits for overall well-being

There are a tonne of ​​maca root benefits. For example, maca is a great source of magnesium, potassium and calcium, which are essential minerals for general well-being and maintaining optimal bone health.

One study showed that those who consumed maca had noticeably improved bone density markers. One likely reason for this is that maca contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial for bone health.

Maca root benefits also include its antioxidant properties. This protects cells in the body by fighting damaging free radicals and reducing the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and heart disease.

Lastly, research suggests that maca can help improve blood pressure, learning, and memory and even protect skin from UV rays and sunburn. However, it's important to note that these results were found in animal studies and research still needs to be done on humans.

Who should and should not take maca?

If you are generally healthy but want to balance your hormones and improve your overall well-being, energy, and health after menopause, maca could very well be beneficial. Likewise, if you’re a man and need help with your libido, erectile dysfunction or fertility, maca is a good supplement to add to your daily routine.

But, while maca health benefits are numerous, that doesn’t mean it’s suitable for everyone.

While it’s considered safe for most people, with little to no reported side effects, avoid it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as there simply isn’t enough information yet regarding its safety.

As maca affects sex hormones and hormonal balance, anyone with a hormone-sensitive cancer like ovarian, uterine or breast cancer, as well as those with conditions like uterine fibroids and endometriosis, should also avoid it.

What types of maca are there?

Maca gummy benefits

Gummies are a great way to receive the health benefits of maca for those who find it difficult to swallow traditional capsules. They are also a lot more convenient than powders, as you don’t have to measure out a dose each time. They can even be taken on the way to work or dropping the kids off at school.

Maca red benefits

Red maca is one of the rarest forms of maca, alongside black, and provides the most antioxidants out of all three variants. It also has the highest amount of amino acids.

Scientific research has shown that a high dose of red maca is beneficial for bone health and preventing post-menopausal bone loss. It also helps improve female fertility, libido and prostate function in men.

However interestingly enough, red maca doesn’t seem to be better at increasing sperm motility in men compared to black and yellow variants.

A 2016 study also showed that black and red maca improved mood and energy compared to participants who took the placebo and a 2005 study reported that red maca had higher nutrient levels compared to yellow and black maca.

Maca black benefits

Black maca is considered to be the rarest type of maca. It is also the most nutrient-dense and has the highest amount of antioxidants of the three varieties.

It has a higher concentration of certain compounds and essential vitamins and minerals, with studies suggesting that black maca powder benefits cognitive function, in particular.

Also known as ‘men’s maca’, black maca is incredibly potent when it comes to increasing sperm production, making it a powerful tool to boost male fertility. This is in contrast to red maca, which has been shown to be more helpful in improving female fertility.

It’s also a favourite among athletes looking to boost their performance thanks to benefits like increased energy levels and endurance.

Maca coffee benefits

If you’re not a huge fan of traditional supplements or gummies but still want all the health benefits of maca root, maca coffee could be a great alternative.

Adding maca root powder to your coffee or opting for a maca coffee substitute is a simple yet effective way to enhance your energy levels. This straightforward addition to your daily routine can help you reap maca’s health benefits without the usual jitteriness associated with traditional caffeinated beverages.

Maca coffee is usually made by combining powdered maca root and hot water, although some brands add other herbs and ingredients to enhance or disguise the flavour.

Pure maca powder is best, but if you are choosing a maca coffee substitute, just make sure that you are choosing a high-strength and high-quality option that’s been minimally processed. You should also avoid anything high in additives, artificial flavours or sweeteners.

Maca extract benefits

Liquid maca extracts are usually made from the root of the maca plant and contain the same nutrients and health benefits as traditional powered maca.

Its liquid format makes it easier for the body to absorb, as it doesn’t need to be broken down by the digestive system. This means you can potentially get the benefits of maca quicker.

Additionally, maca extract benefits include greater convenience than maca powder, as it doesn’t require a drink to dissolve it, making it perfect for those on the go or travelling frequently.

Maca extract may also be tastier than powders, making it easier to take. However, the effectiveness of maca liquid extract will depend on its purity and quality. To ensure you’re getting a high-quality extract, look for certified organic ingredients.

Yellow maca benefits

Yellow maca is the most common variant of the three and is traditionally known as classic maca. Mild in flavour, it's also the least potent and expensive option, making it a great choice if you're new to maca and are looking for a natural way to improve your general health.

It's highly regarded for its adaptogenic properties and is packed with B vitamins which can enhance energy levels. Yellow maca also helps the body adapt to stress, reducing stress-induced inflammation and contains flavonoids, helping to improve anxiety and depression and boost mood and overall well-being.

Yellow maca, a staple of Peruvian food and medicine, is a nutritional powerhouse. It's rich in highly bioavailable proteins, making it easier to absorb than many other types of protein. Additionally, it's a good source of fibre, vitamins A, B and C, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium.

How to use and get the most out of maca

To get the most out of your maca, choose a high-quality maca powder, gummy, extract or capsule to add to your daily health and wellness routine. Maca powders, in particular, are extremely versatile and can be added to smoothies, meals, baked goods and more.

When it comes to maca, quality matters. Opt for the purest form of maca available, which means selecting supplements and powders that are minimally processed with organic ingredients.

Steer clear of products high in additives, artificial flavours, sugars or sweeteners to gain more health benefit and always buy from a reputable brand.

An optimal maca dose hasn’t been established, so you should always stick to the recommended dose on the label and take a consistent serving size daily.

If you’re brand new to maca and are choosing a powder format, some recommend starting with a smaller serving size to give your body time to get used to it before working your way up to a full dose.

As maca is famous for its energy-boosting properties, it’s also best to take it in the morning or just before a workout to benefit from the full effects. It can be taken with or without food, although if you have a sensitive stomach, taking it with food is recommended.

If you’re looking for the convenience of maca in a gummy, you can’t go wrong with Novomins.

Our maca gummies are scientifically formulated to deliver high absorption. The mouth can also absorb nutrients through the buccal membrane, allowing gummies to enhance the uptake of maca from the very first chew.

All our gummies are third-party tested to ensure purity and the highest quality and don’t contain any artificial nasties. That means no artificial flavours, no artificial flavours and no GMO ingredients.

mage of a bottle of Novomins Energy Gummies containing maca root extract.

What are the side effects of maca?

Maca is generally deemed to be safe, with little to no side effects. However, like most natural supplements, maca root has pros and cons.

With maca, there’s a risk of adverse reactions that could include abdominal pain, allergic reactions, insomnia and moodiness. In addition, some women have reported that maca affected their menstrual cycles and elevated testosterone levels.

As there is no research yet into the safety of maca in pregnant or breastfeeding women, it should be avoided entirely. Likewise, if you have any medical conditions or are taking over-the-counter or prescription medications, it’s best to consult your doctor first.

Conclusion: is maca worth taking?

Whether maca is worth taking is ultimately up to you to decide.

You may find maca beneficial for its sexual health benefits, including increasing libido, enhancing fertility and reducing erectile dysfunction. Maca can also improve sperm count and can potentially enhance female fertility, making it helpful for couples trying to conceive.

Other health benefits include boosting energy levels, reducing stress, improving mood and supporting bone health.

Maca can come in many forms, including powders, liquid extracts, coffees and gummies.

Explore Novomins’ range of gummies formulated with this powerhouse root vegetable, like Novomins Testo-Boost Gummies for libido support and testosterone maintenance, Novomins Meno-Balance Gummies for mood and libido support and Novomins Energy Gummies to reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Image of a bottle of Novomins Testo Boost Gummies.

Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, our gummies are formulated by doctors using the highest-quality ingredients from around the world to bring you only the best of the best.

Maca benefits FAQs

What happens if I take maca every day?

It’s safe to take daily maca doses of up to 3 grams for up to four months.

When taken daily, maca can potentially boost energy levels, improve bone health, balance hormones and improve sexual health, including fertility. However, it’s important to note that maca can affect people in different ways and can cause stomach discomfort, headaches, insomnia and a feeling of jitteriness as a result of its stimulant properties.

What is maca best used for?

Maca was traditionally used by the Andean people to treat rheumatic disease and respiratory conditions. Today, maca has seen a huge surge in popularity thanks to its multiple health benefits and is most commonly used as a natural treatment to boost energy levels and improve sexual health, including fertility.




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Dr Peter McQuillan
BDS, MFDS P1, Dip Ortho Founder & Chief Formulator
With over 15 years of experience in the healthcare sector, Dr McQuillan is a highly esteemed professional in the healthcare space.


Akil Memishi
BSc Hons Pharmacology, ICH GCP Founder & Chief Clinical Researcher
Akil Memishi, co-founder of Novomins, combines his extensive clinical research experience with a passion for developing scientifically-backed nutritional products.
Review Date:
29 May 2024
Next Review:
26 April 2026
Published On:
29 May 2024
Last Updated:
29 May 2024