Maca Root

The maca root is a perennial low-growing herb that is found in the Andes region. The root is usually pear-like and around three inches in diameter. It can thrive in mountainous conditions where it is commonly quite sunny, windy or below-freezing. The plant is self-fertilizing and is capable of growing in areas where it is quite rocky and the soil is poor, containing little of the nutrients other plants would need to thrive. Because of this it can easily be stored for long periods of time after it is picked without losing its essential nutrition.

Maca roots contain high amounts of minerals including iron and protein as well as high amounts of fiber, contributing to its frequent medicinal use. Many cultures in the Andes region rely in the maca root as part of their diet. It is believed that this root contains healing powers that can help to address conditions such as low energy, low stamina, fertility issues, limited endurance, tuberculosis or discomfort from the menstrual cycle.

Nutrition Facts of Maca Root

The maca root is often praised for its high nutrient content.

Fats per 10g

Vitamins per 10g

Component per 10g

Minerals per 10g

Amino Acids per 10g

Linoleic 72mcg

Vitamin B2 39mcg

Protein 1-1.4g

Calcium 25mg

Alaine 63.1mg

Palmitic 52mcg

Vitamin B6 114 mcg

Carbohydrates 6-7.5g

Copper .6mg

Arginine 99.4mg

Oleic 24.5mcg

Vitamin C 28.6mcg

Fats 220mg

Iron 1.5mg

Aspartic acid 91.7mg

Niacin 565mcg

Fiber 850mg

Iodine 52mcg

Glutamic acid 156.5mg

Manganese 80mcg

Glycine 68.3mg

Potassium 205mg

Histidine 41.9mg

Sodium 1.9mg

HO-Proline 26mg

Zinc 380mcg

Isoleucine 47.4mg

Leucine 91mg

Lysine 54.5mg

Methionine 28mg

Phenylalaine 55.3mg

Proline .5mg

Sarcosine .7mg

Serine 50.4 mg

Threonine 33.1mg

Tryptophan 4.9mg

Tyrosine 30.6 mg

Valine 79.3mg

Benefits of Maca Root

Maca root powder helps to boos adaptogen, the substance in the body that helps to regulate the energy supply, reduce stress and boost the immune system when needed. The vitamin B, B2, B12 and C in the maca root help the body convert carbohydrates into energy, maintain healthy heart function, increase cell growth and helps to ensure the body has an adequate amount of red blood cells. The alkaloids in the root have an indirect effect on the body's hormones which can affect sexual health, energy state, bodily growth and ensure that the body utilizes phosphorus and calcium properly.

Side Effects of Maca Root

People are recommended to take 3000-5000mg of maca root a day in order to take advantage of its beneficial effects. Concentrated doses of this herb are often 1500-2250mg a day. There have been several reported side effects in those that have taken doses larger than this recommended amount.

1. Fatigue

The active ingredient in maca root that may cause an allergic reaction in some users. This may lead to fatigue or loss of energy in these users, particularly if they use the herb for a long period of time. Those at risk for this side effect are recommended to take their daily dose before bed. Speak to your doctor if you are concerned that this side effect may affect an existing medical condition.

2. Cardiac Risks

Excessive use of maca root may lead to cardiac toxicity. Plants with a similar structure are high in ingredients that are toxic to the cardiac system and muscles of the heart when consumed in supplement form. There are no recorded instances of cardiac toxicity death associated with maca root use, but those that are recovering from a heart-related illness should talk to their doctor about any necessary precautions before starting a maca root supplement routine.

3. Breast Tenderness

Women that regularly use maca supplements in high doses have reported tenderness in the breasts. This is due to the active ingredients in the maca root increasing hormone levels in the body. Those that experience this side effect should lower their dosage.

4. Insomnia

Some who regularly use maca root supplements before bed experience insomnia. The glucosinolates, uridine, macamides, sterols and malic acid may have a negative impact on the central nervous system, but these effects are not yet fully understood.

5. Goiter

Those treating a thyroid condition should not use any forms of the maca root. Those that do not have an adequate supply of iodine in the diet may have a negative reaction to the glucosinolates in maca root, causing goiter. Similar reactions are seen in thyroid patients that consume high levels of watercress, radishes, horseradish or other plants with a hot, spicy or bitter taste.

6. Raise of Testosterone Levels

Taking maca root supplements will raise testosterone in both male and female users. This effect can be beneficial for male users but can lead to a hormonal imbalance for women. Women with excessively high testosterone levels may experience male pattern baldness, breast or uterine cancers, deepening of the voice, or the development of facial hair.

7. Other Side Effects

Some patients have also reported heartburn, headaches, hot flashes, diarrhea, upset stomach increased heart rate or mood swings while using maca root. Some have also experienced an allergic reaction to the herb which led to flushed skin, skin rash or hives.

Warnings for Using Maca Root

Maca root will regulate the hormones. There has not yet been testing to ensure the safety of using this product in patients that are suffering from cancers in the uterus, ovaries, breast or testicles. Those currently being treated for these conditions will need to be very cautious when using this herb. Maca root powder is not recommended for use in women who are pregnant or lactating. Patients with high blood pressure, liver or gall disease should talk to their doctor before using maca root powder. Those that are using products such as ginseng or medications to increase fertility should avoid combining these products with maca root powder.

While there are some foods that are highly beneficial for use in the body, there is no such thing as a true superfood. The maca root, like any other supplement, has side effects which do not allow users to use it as a daily nutrition source. Instead, nutritional supplements and a varied diet are recommended to get an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals each day.

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