Getting older can be a drag for more reasons than one. Once “the change” hits, things are different, and dealing with new challenges like low sex drive, night sweats, and bone loss can be frustrating to say the least. Luckily, more and more research is being done into the ways that women can supplement their bodies and keep feeling marvelous as they age, and one of those solutions is maca root.
If you’ve never heard of maca root, you’re not alone. This cruciferous vegetable, related to others like broccoli and cabbage, is native to Peru and is common in traditional Peruvian recipes. These days maca root is often found in powder form and can be taken as a supplement or added to smoothies to reap all of its impressive health benefits. Perhaps the most relevant is its ability to help with age-related issues like loss of libido, menopause symptoms, and neurodegenerative decline.
Boosting libido is one of the most notable benefits of maca root, and scientific research backs this up. In one 2010 review of studies, researchers determined that supplementation with maca root had a significant positive effect on sexual dysfunction and sexual desire in otherwise healthy menopausal women and healthy adult men. Another study on postmenopausal women who were on antidepressants found that taking maca root reduced sexual dysfunction as well!
This isn’t the only menopause symptom it can help with. The flavonoids, or chemical compounds that have profound effects on the body, found in maca root can also help reduce anxiety. One small study on postmenopausal women found that maca helped alleviate anxiety and feelings of depression, while another larger study showed similar results.
Many health professionals assert that maca root may help balance levels of the hormone estrogen, and fluctuations of estrogen levels during perimenopause and menopause can cause a number of frustrating symptoms. One study, in particular, showed that taking maca root resulted in a reduction of reported hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. And while bone loss and osteoporosis are also common after menopause, other studies have also suggested that maca could also protect your bones. Wow!
Taking maca root could also help protect your brain, specifically the areas associated with learning and memory — things we tend to lose with age. One animal study showed that maca root improved memory, and results from a review of studies also suggested that it could improve memory performance and learning. Researchers from this review even went as far as to suggest that maca could be a viable treatment option in the prevention of Alzheimer's!
If you’re ready to start incorporating maca root into your daily routine, there are a few ways to do so. Maca isn’t associated with many health risks, but since it affects the hormones, those under treatment for thyroid conditions or other hormonal issues should avoid taking it. As a general guideline, get your doctors OK before trying any new supplement.
You can take a maca root supplement or buy maca root powder, like this one from Anthony’s ($10.74, Amazon) to add to smoothies or plain water. Dosage recommendations for maca root aren’t concretely established, but effective doses in studies range from 1.5 grams to 5 grams a day. For a maca root supplement we love, try this one from Nature Labs ($17.94, Amazon).
Cheers to graceful aging!
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