Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Do you have complaints during your menstruation or the menopause, but prefer to rely on natural products? Then you are on the right track. As a superfood, red maca is said to have special healing and nutritional properties. We would like to show you what is hidden behind this unique root.

In our big red maca test 2021 it is our goal to inform you about the topic. We have dealt with the effect of this plant as well as compared different application possibilities. In this way, we want to inform you completely about red maca and also make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • Red maca grows in the Peruvian Andes and was already used as a medicinal plant in the times of the Incas. The root of the plant is very rich in nutrients and is characterised above all by high potassium and iron values.
  • The active substances and ingredients of maca make the plant a superfood. It helps with menstrual and menopausal complaints in women, but also generally with iron deficiency and high blood pressure.
  • You can take red maca in the form of powder, capsules and drops. They differ in dosage and open up a variety of ways to consume Maca.

The Best Red Maca: Our Picks

To give you a clear overview of the quality features of Maca products, we have compiled our favourites below.

Buying and evaluation criteria for red maca

In the following section we would like to show you which aspects you should consider if you are planning to buy red maca. In summary, these are:

  • Dosage form
  • Dosage/ Concentration
  • Processing
  • Cultivation

In the corresponding paragraphs we will explain to you what is important in the individual criteria so that you can make the right choice.

Dosage form

In the guide, we explain in detail what you need to know about the different dosage forms.

Red maca powder is excellent for mixing into smoothies.

Red maca is available as powder, capsules or as a tincture. Each application has its advantages and disadvantages. You have to decide for yourself what is best for you.

They differ mainly in price. Raw powder is usually much cheaper than drops and capsules.

The latter, on the other hand, are available in large quantities and can be stored for a long time in a space-saving way. In addition, it is easier and less complicated to take.

Dosage

Before buying, we recommend that you inform yourself about the concentration of the individual Maca products. It varies depending on the dosage form and thus determines the dosage.

Capsules and tinctures usually have a high dosage and are therefore somewhat more expensive.

Their concentration ratio can range from 4:1 to 20:1. The recommended daily amount also depends on the concentration. Make sure that you do not take too much and see it as a supplement to your diet.

Processing

If you want to buy products with red maca, it is also important to take a closer look at the processing. Capsules are often made with gelatine for the shell. As a vegan, it is recommended to buy capsules with a cellulose shell.

If it is important to you, you can find out if the products are free of additives such as colourings and preservatives. Ingredients such as additional vitamin C are of no further concern.

Cultivation

The use of the maca plant has gained popularity in recent years.

The relatively small supply of maca is matched by a huge demand.

The demand has steadily increased worldwide, especially in China, where the demand for the root has grown rapidly. However, due to the conditions, maca is only cultivated in the Peruvian Andes.

For this reason, it is advisable to make sure that you buy fair trade products from an organic cultivation.

In addition, pesticides and chemical fertilisers should be avoided. This way, you can not only support nature sustainably, but also enable the farmers to receive a fair wage.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about red maca answered in detail

In the following section we take a closer look at the properties and effects of red maca. For this purpose, we have summarised and answered frequently asked questions in order to clear up any ambiguities.

What is red maca and how does it work?

The maca we know as a powder comes from the maca plant, which is found in the Peruvian Andes. There it has been used for centuries as a food and medicinal plant. The frost-resistant plant can be found up to an altitude of 4400 metres and grows under extreme weather conditions (5, 6).

The tuber is interesting for use in this case. It is rich in nutrients and minerals and also has special active substances such as macamides or mustard oil glycosides.

Because of these important ingredients, the tuber is becoming more and more popular. It is mainly used against women's complaints and high blood pressure. But the tuber is also said to be helpful against stress and exhaustion (5, 6, 7).

Besides red maca, there is also yellow and black maca. Although they are similar in structure, they are said to have different effects.

General effects

Unlike other plants, the maca plant draws a relatively large amount of minerals from its environment. The red maca has a particularly high proportion of iron and potassium.

Many people have regular experience with iron deficiency and its consequences and could prevent it with the help of the red tuber. In addition, the high potassium content of red maca can significantly lower blood pressure (4, 7).

It can also have an effect on chronic fatigue, which is often caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Due to the ingested transport proteins, mineral absorption can be improved, whereby the body receives the required amount of minerals. (3, 10)

In some cases, red maca can also be an adequate remedy for anxiety and depression. These are currently thought to be caused by a serotonin deficiency. It ensures that the serotonin level is not inhibited too much and consequently lowers the stress level. (3, 12)

Effect on women's complaints

Red maca is particularly helpful for women's complaints, such as infertility, loss of libido, menstrual and menopausal problems. The main cause of these problems is the lack of progesterone.

Pain and discomfort during menstruation are known to everyone. Red maca ensures higher levels of progesterone, which helps the lining of the uterus to build up better and relieves the pain. (Image source: Andrea Piacquadio / pexels)

Progesterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Oestrogens are formed from progesterones through hormone synthesis. If there are more oestrogens than progesterones in the female body, this is called a progesterone deficiency(1, 11).

Through its plant sterols, red maca stimulates progesterone production. This can reduce or even completely alleviate cycle complaints such as pain in the lower abdomen or the "emotional rollercoaster". However, it depends on the correct dose and the period of use.

During the menopause there are often hormonal fluctuations and deficiencies of progesterone and estradiol. For this reason, red marca, which stimulates progesterone production, can also be used here. In this way, medical hormone therapies can be avoided(1, 11).

Did you know that men who want to have children can take black maca?

This promotes testosterone production and the number or motility of sperm.

Women who have fertility problems due to progesterone deficiency are also recommended to take red Maca during the fertility phase to balance oestrogen and progesterone(2, 3).

Effect on prostate and hair loss

Several studies have shown that red Maca can have an effect on an enlarged prostate. This can often be a result of ageing in men or steroid abuse.

As a result, the prostate is pressed against the bladder and causes frequent urination. Scientists believe that the hormone DHT is responsible for the tissue growth (8, 9).

Some studies have shown a reduction in prostate size in rats in connection with red maca. The reduction was related to DHT levels and was also dependent on dose and regularity of intake. This gives reason to believe that it is also successful in humans. Studies in this regard do not yet exist (8, 9).

DHT is also cited as one of the causes of hair loss. By lowering the DHT level, this process could possibly be inhibited prematurely. Studies that can directly prove this have not yet been conducted.

When and for whom is red Maca useful?

In general, red maca is suitable for everyone, as it is a healthy and substantial addition to the diet. The nutrient-rich root supplies the body with valuable ingredients and leads to a general feeling of well-being and a strengthened immune system.

It is safe for children to take as long as the extracts are not alcohol-based. (5, 7)

In specific use, it is often used for pain or discomfort in women during menstruation or menopause.

So for women who are still in the pre-menopausal phase, red maca is particularly recommended. This makes it a popular and natural remedy for gynaecology (1, 11)

As already mentioned, red maca can also be beneficial for men. The specific benefits for men have not yet been fully proven, but research is proving promising.

Therefore, red maca is particularly effective for men of advanced age, but because of the nutrients, it is not to be discouraged even at a young age.

What types of red maca are there and which one is right for you?

Maca is primarily absorbed through food or in liquid form. The tuber with the important ingredients is processed after harvesting, which results in various possibilities of use. As a rule, a distinction can be made between the following types:

  • Red Maca as powder
  • Red Maca as capsules
  • Red Maca as tincture

These types are most commonly found for consumption. You can find out what they are and what advantages and disadvantages they offer in this section.

Red Maca as a powder

A common way to consume Maca in the most natural way possible is Maca powder. A distinction must be made between raw powder and gelatinised powder.

Raw powder can be produced by drying the roots and then pulverising them. Raw powder is especially recommended in its natural state or in raw food quality. In this state, it still contains valuable enzymes and mustard oil glycosides that strengthen the immune system.

In the first processing step, the maca root is pulverised. It still has all the important active ingredients and can be further used to produce capsules and extracts. (Image source: David Gabrielyan / unsplash)

In gelatinisation, the already powdered tuber is carefully boiled again. Once this mass has dried, it can also be used as a powder. During this process, the mustard oil glycosides are split off, as allergy sufferers may suffer from intolerances. It also has a higher bioavailability. This means that a larger proportion of the active ingredients is available to the body unchanged.

Advantages
  • Mixing with food
  • Sweetish taste
  • Rapid absorption of the active ingredients
Disadvantages
  • Possibly incompatible due to mustard oil glycosides
  • Lower concentration

Mustard oil glycosides are also found in radish, horseradish and mustard and are responsible for the bitter taste. In nature, they act as a repellent against animals. In humans, they can prevent infections and cancer, according to research.

Red Maca as capsules

Capsules are extremely popular when it comes to food supplements because of their properties. Red maca is also available in the form of capsules. The gelatinised maca powder provides the basis for this.

Advantages
  • Easy transport and storage
  • Multiple active ingredients can be combined
  • Fast intake
  • High concentration
Disadvantages
  • Delayed release of active ingredients
  • Swallowing can be unpleasant

Many suppliers add other important substances such as vitamin C or zinc to the capsules. This way you can combine several active ingredients at once. You can take them individually, but it is recommended to take them in combination with a meal.

Due to their form and high concentration, the capsules will last a long time and can be stored for a long time.

Red Maca as a tincture

Tinctures are drop solutions containing the extracts of the Maca root. They are usually produced on the basis of alcohol or glycerine. An integrated pipette allows the liquid to be dosed exactly to the drop.

Advantages
  • Extremely high concentration
  • Easy to use
  • Individually dosable
Disadvantages
  • Often alcohol-based
  • Not always suitable for children

However, the disadvantage with alcohol-based tinctures is that they are not suitable for children, alcoholics or people with liver disease. These restrictions do not apply to glycerine-based drops. In addition, the active substances of the tuber, including the mustard oil glycosides, are preserved.

You can take the drops orally. If you don't like the taste, you can use them to dilute your drinks or to give your smoothie an even better effect.

How much does red maca cost?

Since the maca plant only grows under certain conditions in Peru, its cultivation area is clearly limited.

In addition, it has to be exported from the Andes all the way to Germany, which makes the price of the supposed superfood high. The colour of the tuber plays a rather minor role.

In any case, the price of the products depends on how they are prepared. The raw powder is usually the cheapest, as it undergoes the simplest process in production. The more complex production of the capsules and drops is reflected in the price.

Type Price per 100 g/ml
Raw powder approx. 2.50 to 4 euros
Gelatinised powder approx. 3.50 to 12 euros
Capsules 14 to 24 euros
Tinctures 20 to 37 euros

In addition, the price depends on other factors such as cultivation, additional ingredients and quantity. Capsules range from 80 to 200 pieces, while the powder is sold in half or whole kilogram packages.

How should red maca be dosed?

Red maca is classified by scientists as a safe food, which is why it can be taken in larger quantities without further problems.

In a study, test persons did not show any complaints after a daily dose. Nevertheless, we could unfortunately not find any scientifically proven information about the recommended daily amount.

In general, it is advisable to approach Maca products slowly and to start with a small dose. This gives your body time to get used to the active ingredients, as red maca takes effect quite quickly.

After you have become accustomed to taking it, you can increase the amount to meet your needs.

Since different dosage forms are offered, they also have to be dosed differently. The raw powder has the lowest concentration, which is why one to two heaped tablespoons a day are sufficient. For the gelatinised powder, about a quarter to half of this amount is recommended.

The number of capsules should be taken according to the concentration. The recommended daily amount is usually given in the package inserts. With tinctures, a few drops are usually enough for an effective effect.

What are the side effects of taking red maca?

As can be seen from the previous section, no side effects have been observed in healthy people, even at higher doses. In addition, red maca is also suitable for people with gluten intolerance (5).

In sensitive people, the effect of the substances can be perceived more strongly.

However, you should be careful that you are not allergic to the mustard oil glycosides. Ingestion may irritate your mucous membranes. An alternative is gelatinised powder or capsules.

If you have kidney problems, you should hardly consume food containing potassium, which is why you should also avoid red maca. The manufacturers recommend not taking it during pregnancy due to a lack of studies.

What alternatives are there to red Maca?

We have summarised a few alternatives for you in a table.

Alternative Effect
Legumes Legumes such as flaxseed are rich in magnesium, iron and potassium. The intake of potassium can lower blood pressure. Stomachesium promotes natural muscle function, making cramps less painful during contraction.
Bananas Bananas contain a large amount of magnesium, similar to bananas. The effect is equal to those of legumes.
Lady's mantle The plant lady's mantle can be taken as a tea. This harmonises the cycle by having an anti-inflammatory effect and relieves cramps.

Red maca is becoming increasingly popular as a so-called superfood in our shopping. However, sourcing it is comparatively quite expensive and importing it from South America is not necessarily environmentally friendly. That is why these alternatives can also be a good choice.

Image source: Hofacker / 123rf

References (12)

1. Brooks, Nicole A. BSci (Hons)1; Wilcox, Gisela BMedSc (Hons), MD, FRACP, FRCPA2; Walker, Karen Z. MND, PhD3; Ashton, John F. MSc, PhD4; Cox, Marc B. MSPH, PhD5; Stojanovska, Lily MSc, PhD1 Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content, Menopause: December 2008 - Volume 15 - Issue 6 - p 1157-116
Source

2. Dording CM, Fisher L, Papakostas G, Farabaugh A, Sonawalla S, Fava M, Mischoulon D. A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.
Source

3. Dording CM, Schettler PJ, Dalton ED, Parkin SR, Walker RS, Fehling KB, Fava M, Mischoulon D. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:949036
Source

4. Filippini T, Violi F, D'Amico R, Vinceti M. The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2017 Mar 1;230:127-135.
Source

5. Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, Alarcón-Yaquetto DE, Zevallos-Concha A, Caballero L, Gasco M, Zhao J, Khan IA, Gonzales GF. Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2016 Aug 18;9(3):49.
Source

6. Gonzales GF, Gonzales C, Gonzales-Castañeda C. Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru--from tradition to science. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009 Dec;16(6):373-80.
Source

7. Gonzales GF. Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496.
Source

8. Gonzales GF, Miranda S, Nieto J, Fernández G, Yucra S, Rubio J, Yi P, Gasco M. Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2005 Jan 20;3:5.
Source

9. Gonzales GF, Vasquez V, Rodriguez D, Maldonado C, Mormontoy J, Portella J, Pajuelo M, Villegas L, Gasco M. Effect of two different extracts of red maca in male rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia. Asian J Androl. 2007 Mar;9(2):245-51.
Source

10. Meissner HO, Kedzia B, Mrozikiewicz PM, Mscisz A. Short and long-term physiological responses of male and female rats to two dietary levels of pre-gelatinized maca (lepidium peruvianum chacon). Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(1):13-28.
Source

11. Meissner HO, Mscisz A, Reich-Bilinska H, et al. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (III) Clinical responses of early-postmenopausal women to Maca in double blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled, crossover configuration, outpatient study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(4):375-394.
Source

12. Rubio J, Caldas M, Dávila S, Gasco M, Gonzales GF. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Jun 23;6:23.
Source

Wissenschaftliche Studie
Brooks, Nicole A. BSci (Hons)1; Wilcox, Gisela BMedSc (Hons), MD, FRACP, FRCPA2; Walker, Karen Z. MND, PhD3; Ashton, John F. MSc, PhD4; Cox, Marc B. MSPH, PhD5; Stojanovska, Lily MSc, PhD1 Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content, Menopause: December 2008 - Volume 15 - Issue 6 - p 1157-116
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Dording CM, Fisher L, Papakostas G, Farabaugh A, Sonawalla S, Fava M, Mischoulon D. A double-blind, randomized, pilot dose-finding study of maca root (L. meyenii) for the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2008 Fall;14(3):182-91.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Dording CM, Schettler PJ, Dalton ED, Parkin SR, Walker RS, Fehling KB, Fava M, Mischoulon D. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial of maca root as treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:949036
Go to source
Review
Filippini T, Violi F, D'Amico R, Vinceti M. The effect of potassium supplementation on blood pressure in hypertensive subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2017 Mar 1;230:127-135.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Studie
Gonzales-Arimborgo C, Yupanqui I, Montero E, Alarcón-Yaquetto DE, Zevallos-Concha A, Caballero L, Gasco M, Zhao J, Khan IA, Gonzales GF. Acceptability, Safety, and Efficacy of Oral Administration of Extracts of Black or Red Maca (Lepidium meyenii) in Adult Human Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2016 Aug 18;9(3):49.
Go to source
Review
Gonzales GF, Gonzales C, Gonzales-Castañeda C. Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru--from tradition to science. Forsch Komplementmed. 2009 Dec;16(6):373-80.
Go to source
Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Gonzales GF. Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:193496.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Gonzales GF, Miranda S, Nieto J, Fernández G, Yucra S, Rubio J, Yi P, Gasco M. Red maca (Lepidium meyenii) reduced prostate size in rats. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2005 Jan 20;3:5.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Gonzales GF, Vasquez V, Rodriguez D, Maldonado C, Mormontoy J, Portella J, Pajuelo M, Villegas L, Gasco M. Effect of two different extracts of red maca in male rats with testosterone-induced prostatic hyperplasia. Asian J Androl. 2007 Mar;9(2):245-51.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Meissner HO, Kedzia B, Mrozikiewicz PM, Mscisz A. Short and long-term physiological responses of male and female rats to two dietary levels of pre-gelatinized maca (lepidium peruvianum chacon). Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(1):13-28.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Meissner HO, Mscisz A, Reich-Bilinska H, et al. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (III) Clinical responses of early-postmenopausal women to Maca in double blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled, crossover configuration, outpatient study. Int J Biomed Sci. 2006;2(4):375-394.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Rubio J, Caldas M, Dávila S, Gasco M, Gonzales GF. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006 Jun 23;6:23.
Go to source
Reviews