The maca plant, also called Peruvian ginseng, grows in the Andes Mountains of Peru and produces leaves and a small root that is about the size of a radish. Maca is a South American cruciferous plant—a family of plants that also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower cabbage and turnips. But it’s the maca root that’s been valued for thousands of years among native Andean populations for how it supports increased energy levels, strength, stamina and vitality.
It’s an unusual root, too, containing 19 essential amino acids, a rich source of fiber, all free fatty acids as well as many vitamins such as B2, B6, B12, niacin (B3), vitamin E and vitamin C, and over 27 minerals such as selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. Maca also contains unique alkaloids called glucosinolates, which play roles in maca’s ability to balance hormones.
Likewise, maca has nutrients termed macaenes and macamides, which serve to bolster energy levels and vitality. As an adaptogen, maca is said to sustain the body’s ability to support physical and mental health, while managing stress—and has the ability to work differently, yet effectively, in both men and women, including supporting reproductive and sexual health.
Generally speaking, maca supports the adrenal glands, part of the endocrine system which produce important hormones, ensuring proper growth and development as well as stress management. Additionally, maca helps to support the proper function of the adrenal glands' production of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. When physical and mental stresses occur, the adrenal glands are triggered to increase production of cortisol, which, over time, can be damaging to health. Elevated, unrelenting cortisol levels can also lead to food cravings and overeating. However, maca’s adaptogenic, balancing effect on the adrenal glands and hormone production results in the body having higher energy and stamina levels.
Maca is also noted for muscle building; hormone balancing; supporting bone health; immune system health; supporting healthy circulation; thyroid and pituitary health; boosting strength and physical performance; supporting healthy aging; helping with mood and emotional health; healthy blood; supporting fertility in both men and women; a healthy memory; enhancing mental clarity; healthy neural activity in the brain; promoting deeper sleep; stomach and digestive health; and promoting normal hair growth.
Among athletes seeking to build their muscles and energy levels, maca has become a popular alternative to other options, since maca contains no chemicals that could cause unhealthy outcomes for endocrine function.
And when it comes to maca, we think that RAW, organic Peruvian maca is the best. Simply put, RAW is how you want your Peruvian maca, since “RAW” ensures that the maca hasn’t been processed at temperatures past 115º Fahrenheit. By keeping maca RAW, it retains its valuable enzymes—without which minerals and vitamins become ineffective due to the destruction of enzymes from high-heat or other processing. Likewise, the B vitamins and vitamin C are the first vitamins to go when plants such as maca are processed above a certain temperature. As far as organic, unless maca is wearing the USDA Certified Organic seal—ensuring at least 95 percent organic content—then you’re probably getting toxins such as pesticides, GMOs and more. Organic is the assurance you can count on for pure, healthy products, including maca.
Maca—it’s the “root” of energy, strength, stamina and vitality.