Cultivated in high altitudes in the mountainous regions of Peru, maca has been used for centuries by the natives for energy, libido, stamina and fertility. Although all varieties of maca basically provide the same health benefits, they each provide different effects on osteoporosis, libido, mood, mental focus and prostate issues. If you've been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you may want to ask your doctor prior to ingesting maca. According to an article in the "Research in Complementary Medicine" journal, people with metabolic syndrome who were given a dose of 0.6 grams per day for 90 days experienced an increase in a liver enzyme, as well as an increase in diastolic blood pressure. There were no toxic levels reported in healthy individuals.
Due to decreases in estrogen levels, postmenopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis. Red and black maca have been tested on rats to determine their effects on bone structure; red maca provided more of the benefit, being involved in the formation of new bone, as reported in a 2010 issue of "Forschende Komplementarmedizine." Although the estrogen pathway was the route taken to help strengthen bone, there was no increase in uterine size, which is usually the case when estrogens are increased by way of certain types of hormone replacement therapy.
Men over the age of 50 are at risk of acquiring benign prostatic hyperplasia, which means an enlarged prostate. Red maca reduces prostate size in rats according to a study reported in the journal "Research in Complementary Medicine." As men and women age, sexual desire decreases; however, maca has been known to increase sexual desire in men and women, and it also increases sperm production.
Black maca, in a matter of 42 days, has shown a greater effect on spermatogenesis than yellow maca, which had only a moderate effect, whereas red maca exhibited no effect, according to the Dec. 16, 2009 issue of "Research in Complementary Medicine." A study reported in "BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine" revealed an improvement in memory and latent learning in mice given black, red and yellow maca. Although all three types of the maca provided improvements, black maca revealed a greater effect on latent learning and memory. Red, black, and yellow maca were all beneficial for use as an antidepressant.
Maca can be consumed in several forms, such as in capsules, powdered, and in extracts. If in powdered form, you can pour it in smoothies or on cereals.
Spending a lot of time in the hot sun can wreak havoc on your skin. Although there are many skin protectants in the market, yellow maca root can be added to the list for sun protection, according to a study in the August 2011 "International Journal of Dermatology." If applied to your skin a few minutes prior to exposure to harmful rays of the sun, aqueous extracts of yellow maca can prevent skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.