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Nutrition

What Is Maca Root? 9 Benefits of the Superfood for Women Over 50

It's easy to integrate into your diet.

The transition to menopause typically starts around age 45. You’ll notice it thanks to changing hormone levels that cause uncomfortable side effects such as hot flashes, mood swings, and insomnia. Ahhh, the joys of aging.  

However, relief from symptoms of menopause is available. A Peruvian vegetable known as Maca root, for example, integrates easily to your daily diet and solves a host of menopause problems. Also known as Peruvian Gensing, Maca root (Lepidium meyenii) not only helps with menopause symptoms, it can soothe feelings of stress and even support your skin’s natural defenses against sun damage. 

What is Maca root?

The Maca root superfood is a cruciferous vegetable related to foods like turnips and radishes, broccoli, cabbage, and kale. The Peruvian Andes mountain range communities have been cultivating it for more than 2,000 years. Its remarkable hardiness and ability to withstand extreme environments are part of the reasons why. 

Maca root has an earthy flavor, and it can be consumed in a few different ways — as a drink, a meal, or a powder additive for smoothies. It’s rich in amino acids, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins like vitamin C, which is why it has so many wonderful health benefits. 

Benefits of Maca Supplementation

If you’re looking to bolster your daily vitamin and nutrient intake, but you want to do it naturally, Maca root might be the alternative “medicinal” supplement for you. Here are just a few of the benefits of maca for women going through menopause. 

1. It reduces symptoms of menopause.

If you’ve ever wondered why you feel so out of whack — mentally, spiritually, physically — blame it on low estrogen levels. They’re the hormonal fluctuations everyone talks about when referencing menopause, and they cause things like chills and night sweats, weight gain, dry skin, and reduced sex drive. 

Some studies show that maca root can help soothe symptoms of menopause, particularly those associated with insomnia, hot flashes, and nightly temperature changes. 

2. It helps maintain energy levels.

Keeping up with kids and grandkids can be tough, and it’s natural to want a little extra energy throughout the day. Maca root may be a low-impact way to get that energy boost without caffeine or other supplements. 

Maca root may help support healthy energy levels in athletes, which can be useful for moms and grandmas. (If you’ve ever chased after a toddler — or a teenager, for that matter — you know what we mean.) Some also report anecdotal evidence of black maca root helping with sexual dysfunction and sperm count for men. More on that later.

3. It soothes stress.

Stress isn’t “all in your head.” In fact, it can have a painful and lasting impact on our bodies, causing everything from stomach pain and headaches to fatigue and irregular periods. Maca root can help balance cortisol levels that support the body’s natural response to environmental stressors. 

4. It supports bone health.

During menopause, hormone levels begin to drop, which can affect your bone density. In the first five years following menopause, women can lose as much as 10 percent of their bone density. This can trigger osteoporosis, which can lead to fractures, sprains, and breaks that are difficult to recover from. 

Maca root contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, a nutrient that supports bone health and may be effective in helping to strengthen bones when combined with vitamins like calcium and vitamin D. 

5. It boosts libido.

One of the most frequently reported symptoms of menopause is loss of libido. Changing hormone levels can reduce interest in sex and cause vaginal dryness and other discomforts. 

Maca root’s aphrodisiac qualities have been known to support a healthy libido, particularly in postmenopausal women taking antidepressants. Additionally, its ability to reduce stress impacts mental health, which in turn, benefits libido.   

6. It evens out mood swings.

What menopausal or postmenopausal woman hasn’t experienced mood swings? Honestly, I can’t think of a single one. (At least, not in my circle of friends.) Thanks again to our fluctuating hormones, we have a higher incidence of depression and anxiety, which trigger extreme mood swings. 
Extended maca root consumption can help even out mood swings by maintaining dopamine levels. (Maca root is an adaptogen, meaning it’s able to help regulate our body’s natural stress responses — including emotional ones. While researchers still aren’t entirely sure what the correlation is between maca root and dopamine, some medical professionals think its adaptogenic nature might be the culprit.)

Since low dopamine levels are related to feelings of melancholy, healthy dopamine levels can help to soothe those feelings and symptoms.  

7. It may reduce blood pressure.

Yet another fun side effect of menopause: It affects our weight and metabolism, and increases our salt sensitivity, potentially increasing blood pressure. This, in turn, can cause headaches, feelings of dread, and even shortness of breath. Left untreated, the consequences are even more dire. 

Studies indicate that long-term use of maca root can support healthy blood pressure levels

8. It protects the skin.

In addition to mood swings and temperature changes, the changing hormone levels during menopause affects our hair and skin, leading to thinning and drying. Thin, dry skin is more susceptible to sunburns and damage from UV exposure, as well as sunspots and heat rashes.

If your in menopause or postmenopausal, be sure to take extra precautions when out in the sun. Use a higher SPF sunscreen, wear sun protective clothing, and add maca root to your diet. Early studies show maca root amplifies the body’s natural defenses against UV rays and sun exposure. 

9. It supports memory.

Lapses in memory and difficulty concentrating are common during menopause. It’s the ubiquitous “brain fog” we all talk and read about. It happens, yet again, because of our changing hormone levels. Maca root helps to balance these, thus improving cognitive function. 

Maca root might be your solution.

For many women, menopause is a difficult time. Emotional and physical changes, challenges with focus and concentration — they’re just some of the irritating and uncomfortable symptoms menopause incurs. But there are solutions. Maca root is one of them. 

Check with your doctor before adding it to your daily diet. If you’re given the green light, you can look forward to decreased mood swings, fewer hot flashes, and an overall reduction in menopause symptoms.

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