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  • Writer's pictureLiz Riesen, RD

The Hormone-Balancing Benefits of Maca Root for Females

Discover the hormone-balancing benefits of maca root for females. Learn how maca can help alleviate PMS, balance hormones, and improve fertility outcomes.

Food and nutrients should be the first place we look when talking about hormone balance. This is because food is information and hormones are the communicators. This is why "food as medicine" is truly effective in healing symptoms and achieving hormone balance.

If you are experiencing hormonal symptoms, such as: mood swings, fatigue, brain fog, headaches, migraines, breakouts, cramping, bloating, and heavy, painful're not alone. Hormone fluctuations are supposed to occur in cycling women, however when hormones become unbalanced these symptoms creep up.

In this article, I'll dive into one food in particular - Maca root!

small bowl of maca powder

What is Maca Root?

Maca is a tuber, which is like a thick stem that grows under the ground. The rich nutrients maca is known for is stored in the bulb that looks like a radish. Interestingly enough the maca plant is in the brassica family. This is the same family as mustard and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

Maca is grown in the mountains, specifically in the Andes mountain range at about 12000 feet elevation. Only very strong plants (which also mean nutrient dense) can grow in conditions like this. There are three colors of maca: red, black, and yellow. Yellow is the most common and black is the rarest.

Nutrient Profile of Maca

Maca is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and B vitamins specifically B2, B3, and B6. This food is also packed with minerals, including: iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, iodine, copper, and potassium.

Nutrients in Maca Root

  • Vitamin A

  • Vitamin C

  • Vitamin B2, B3, B6

  • Iron

  • Zinc

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

Maca also contains healthy fats that are beneficial for the heart and have also been shown to help stabilize blood glucose levels and reduce inflammation in participants. (2)

Benefits of Maca Root for Female Hormone Support

Why is maca helpful in balancing hormones in females?

Maca is rich in beneficial plant sterols. Plant sterols are similar to hormones involved in our menstrual cycle including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. In my practice, I often recommend maca for women with low hormone production, to help nourish and support natural hormone levels and balance in the body. Maca powder can be particularly helpful with low estrogen levels. (1)

Maca has also been found helpful in improving fertility outcomes. This is likely due to its hormone balancing, stress relieving, and high antioxidant effects - all of which play an important role in fertility outcomes. Maca is not studied in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, so it is recommended stop use during these times.

Maca can also help ease the steep rise and drop of hormones throughout your menstrual cycle - aka. what causes PMS

Maca is an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a food (root, herb, tuber) that works in the body to figure out what the body needs and help the body to achieve balance. Adaptogens also help the body "adapt" to stress.

Our stress hormone, cortisol, can be easily out of balance and throw off sex hormone balance in women. Maca can be used as an adaptogen herb helping our body manage stress and cortisol. As you can see there are many benefits of maca root!

table with a cup of hot chocolate

If you are interested in hormone testing to know exactly how your body is producing and metabolizing hormones, I recommend the DUTCH Hormone Panel with easy at-home collection.

How to Use Maca Root

It is a good idea, as with any supplement, to start with a small dose and work your way up. Always talk with your doctor and work with a healthcare provider to tailor recommendations.

It is generally recommended to start with 1/2 - 1 teaspoon maca powder taken with food to avoid nausea that can occur when taken on an empty stomach. You can add maca powder to a smoothie, yogurt, energy balls, or my favorite - homemade hot chocolate (see recipe below)

Be patient! Maca can take a month or two until it provides full beneficial effects on the body and hormones, so I recommend taking for at least 2 months.

Many studies have shown benefit when maca is taken daily, 3.3 grams for at least 8 weeks. Research has shown maca is very safe, even in doses as high as 15 grams per kg body weight, which is way above what I recommend in my practice. (3, 4)

Your health care professional may recommend you pulse this dose. This means after an amount of time taking maca you will periodically take a break to prevent your body from getting too used to the herb and blocking or dulling the effect.

Calming Hot Cocoa

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk, or choice of milk

  • 1⁄4 cup cocoa powder

  • 2 teaspoons maca powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • optional: pinch of cinnamon

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high for one minute. Pour into a mug and warm up or pour over ice and enjoy!

Where Can You Buy Maca?

If you are buying online, make sure you are getting it from a reputable seller that is handling and storing the supplement properly. You also want to choose brands that quality testing from a third-party. One of my favorite supplement brands for maca is Gaia Herbs.

Navitas is another quality tested brand that you can purchase in-stores or online. Organic Gelatinized Maca powder is easier to digest and gentler on the stomach.

The Foundations of Hormone Balance Method

I developed the FHB Method over the years of working with women to achieve natural hormone balance. In order for this to occur, we need to make sure that our body's foundations are strong. The areas that affect hormone balance include: nutrient status, gut health, inflammation, stress and lifestyle. We address these areas as well as natural hormone support, to achieve overall hormone balance and ditch frustrating symptoms!

You deserve to feel happy, energized, and comfortable in your body!

For tips, live videos, and to keep learning about nutrition and hormones, follow me @moms.hormone.dietitian

woman smiling holding coffee cup

Liz Riesen, RD

Registered Dietitian and Hormone Health Coach working with women to increase energy, manage stress, and balance hormones through her Foundations of Hormone Balance Method.

Feel confident and comfortable in your body! Ditch symptoms of fatigue, bloating, weight gain, anxiety, mood swings, irregular cycles, and inflammation. Follow me @moms.hormone.dietitian


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