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Maca is a popular fertility boosting supplement with claims of balancing hormones, improving libido and increasing pregnancy rates. Based on these claims, it seems to tick all the boxes of a top-shelf fertility boosting supplement! If you’ve never heard about maca before, then read on as I tell you all about this potentially useful supplement and importantly look at the scientific research to see if there is any truth to the fertility claims.
What is Maca?
Maca is a root vegetable belonging to the cruciferous vegetable family along with cauliflower and broccoli. It originates from the mountainous Andes region of Peru. It is a hardy plant indeed for the torrid conditions it grows in at high altitude with its freezing temperatures, fierce winds and intense sunlight. Maca is the only food crop in the world that can grow and thrive at such a high altitude and in such harsh weather. Many of the health benefits made about maca are linked with its hardiness properties ‘transferring’ across to people who eat it. Maca can be eaten in the root form, or more commonly taken as a powdered extract.
Will maca help with fertility?
The legend goes that pre-Incan farmers first noticed that the hardy maca root made their herds more fertile. With a history now of over 2,000 years use, these same native Peruvians have used maca root as both food and medicine to promote fertility, endurance, energy, vitality, and sexual virility.
So we have lots of anecdotal stories of maca being used to promote fertility, but what does the science say? So far, there have only been a handful of research studies looking at maca root on both female and male fertility so let me give you a quick overview of what they tell us.
For starters, maca root is believed to be an aphrodisiac and it may help with the female libido. So you can connect the dots here that if something helps increase the frequency of sexual intercourse, then that will improve the chances of conception.
At least in animals, maca seems to work as an aphrodisiac, but there isn’t much quality research in human females. Although for men, it may have a small benefit with one study finding a small increase in libido. A review of all the human clinical trials of maca in improving sexual desire came to the conclusion that there was overall little evidence for a benefit, but the amount of research so far is pretty small. I guess if you believe maca will help with libido, then that they may be enough to give a boost, but it seems to me that if it has a real effect, it will be a small one.
However, there was a has been one study that gave a hint at maca root’s fertility power in women. A 2005 study showed that a maca extract increased litter size in mice. Even though litter size increased, there was no improvement seen in implementation rates or overall fertility which were the same for mice not given maca. Now, of course, the big flag here is that this was a study done in mice and I think when women think about improving fertility they don’t mean boosting their odds of twins or triplets!
What about for the guys?
So the aphrodisiac and fertility claims in women appear to be a little overblown, but the story becomes a little different when you look at sperm quality in men for improving fertility.
A study in which rats were given maca root found that sperm count was increased within one day of treatment. This confirmed an earlier study of Peruvian men in which maca root improved sperm production and sperm motility. And a recent review of studies in men using maca to improve sperm quality did point to a benefit in both healthy and infertile men.
So for guys at least, there may be a fertility boosting benefit for maca. As fertility and conception is a two person job, then maca appears to offer a benefit on the male side of the equation. So girls, if you’re thinking of trying maca for yourself, then “sharing’s caring” so perhaps convince your partner to try some too!
How to take maca
Maca is considered a very safe food or supplement to take. The taste of maca root powder has an earthy and nutty taste which isn’t to everyone’s liking so you may want to try adding it to smoothies, oatmeal or sweet treats. Or you could consider buying supplement capsules instead.
OK, so I’ve given you a lot of information today. So, let’s summarise:
- Maca is a root vegetable with a history of traditional use for thousands of years
- There are many claims made about maca helping to boost libido and fertility, and while there is some evidence, the research on maca is still in its early stages
- The case seems stronger that maca may help libido and sperm quality for men more than it will help with the fertility of women
- If you think it may be of benefit, then there is no harm in giving it try.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below.
And, to make all this easier for you, I’d love you to download my free meal plan. Just go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility