Is maca safe during pregnancy?

Is maca safe during pregnancy?

You may have heard of maca recently, the hottest food trend to pop up for women right now. 

It’s touted to have a multitude of benefits, especially in the reproductive realm. But is maca safe during pregnancy or just another unproven trendy “health’ powder? We’ve got all the details on maca during pregnancy below.

What is maca?

Maca is a native plant from Peru that’s actually a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli and cauliflower, and is a root. It is often available in powder form, and many people report the taste to be nutty. 

If you read into the details of maca, it’s traditionally used to enhance fertility and is also said to improve energy.

Most individuals who take maca powder will blend it in their smoothies every day.

While there isn’t much research on maca during pregnancy, there is some research on maca and fertility. However, the amount of research done with maca, in general, is quite limited and typically uses animals or human males as research subjects or perimenopausal women.

Is maca safe during pregnancy?

A German doctor released his own article with claims that there is evidence that taking maca during pregnancy can prevent miscarriage. He also claims that conception is impossible past 12,000 feet of altitude due to sterility and low libido in both men and women.

The doctor includes a folktale that illustrates the Spaniards who came to the Andes long ago. They noticed lower libido in their animals who were not reproducing to what was expected. 

They gave maca to their animals to find that libido was restored and their animals were reproducing again.

In 1968, a study was done in the Andes with 14 pregnant women, and they found lower estrogen levels in women throughout their pregnancies caused by the high altitude. However, in 2014, a study found that there were actually increased estrogen levels in pregnant women in the Andes. 

The research is mixed and not plentiful.

Does this mean using maca will increase your estrogen levels while pregnant, and is that a good thing? 

We don’t know. Since there is no sound scientific evidence of maca consumption during pregnancy, most professionals caution against starting this, or any, herbal supplement while pregnant

We just don’t know if or how it could affect your baby.

Maca nutrition breakdown

1 Tablespoon Maca Powder

  • Calories: 30 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Potassium: 130 mg
  • Calcium: 20 mg
  • Iron: 0.4 mg

All values provided by the USDA nutrient database.

Are there benefits to consuming maca while pregnant?

Maca is considered an adaptogen, a substance that brings balance in your body during stressful times. Adaptogens are extremely trendy and popular right now, so it makes sense maca is also part of this conversation. 

While it’s fun and exciting, and possibly good for you to incorporate these adaptogens into your diet, again, there is little to no scientific research indicating that they’re safe for pregnant women. 

Are there potential side effects?

According to multiple research sources related to maca consumption, there are no adverse or toxic levels reported in animal or human trials. 

However, professionals still caution the utilization and dosage since each individual can react differently.

As previously stated, there is no research on the use of maca during pregnancy or maca root while pregnant. The potential of adverse side effects or birth outcomes is unknown.

Bottom line

 It is generally not recommended to start any kind of herbal supplement while pregnant and to discuss with your doctor or midwife if you do.  

Maca has shown some positive effects in studies done in women trying to conceive.

Overall, the number of studies done and the number of women in the studies are so few that more research needs to be done before it’s safe to say that maca is something that can be incorporated into you and your growing baby’s diet.

By Alexa  D’ Orazio, Dietetic Intern and Ryann Kipping, RDN, CLEC | Owner & Founder

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