Maca vs. Ginseng: Which is Better?
Adaptogens have been rapidly gaining popularity over the last few years due to their potential use in helping protect the body from physical and mental stress.[i] Two such adaptogens that are getting traction in the supplement markets are – Maca root and Ginseng.
In this article, I will touch upon Maca root and Ginseng's key areas to help you understand which one can be a better choice for your next supplement formulation.
What is Maca?
Maca (Lepidium Meyenii) is an edible plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family of herbaceous plants. It is native to South America and most commonly found at very high altitudes (11,000-14,500 feet) in the Andes Mountains ranges in Peru.[ii] [iii]
There are primarily four types of maca roots:
- Yellow Maca
- Black Maca
- Red Maca
- Purple Maca
What is Maca Root Extract Used For?
Supplements made from maca roots have been shown to support energy levels, fertility and work as an aphrodisiac. Benzyl-linoleamide, the most abundant Macamide found in maca root extracts, has been studied for its potential health benefits.
While selecting the appropriate root for formulating supplements, the Macamide and Macaene content is more important than the color of the different types of maca roots. Maca root extracts standardized for 0.6% Macamides and Macaenes generally provide the best results for maca activity in supplements.
As a supplement, maca belongs to a category called adaptogens. Adaptogens have been found to help reduce stress and promote energy levels in healthy individuals.
Nutritional Value of Maca
Maca roots are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, essential minerals such as copper and iron, vitamin C, lipids, and plant-based compounds such as glucosinolates and polyphenols.
A 100-gram serving of dried maca roots provides approximately 325 calories and contains around 59% carbohydrates, 10.2% protein, 8.5% fibers, and 2.2% lipids.[v]
Macamides, Macaenes, and benzylated alkamides are the active marker compounds in maca. Along with the varying levels of anthocyanin that lend the color difference, the amount of Macamides and Macaenes content also varies considerably in each root type.[vi]
What are the Health Benefits of Maca?
Although maca roots have been traditionally used for their fertility-enhancing properties, there are several other benefits that it offers.
Maca Root Powder Benefits for Men
Maca roots have the potential to help improve sexual desire in men. A 12-week clinical study on a group of men aged 21-56 years demonstrated that taking 1.5-3 grams(g) of maca root extract for 12 weeks may help increase their sexual desire.[vii]
In a study recently published in the Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, it was found that men consuming a patented variant of Peruvian Maca were found to have an improvement in handgrip strength, sexual function, and occasional fatigue.[viii] [ix]
Maca Root Powder Benefits for Women
Supplements made from maca root extracts may be supportive for menopausal women.
In a study conducted on a small group, women who were self-administered 2 g of maca root supplements daily with meals showed relieved symptoms of menopausal discomfort, particularly hot flashes and night sweating.[x]
Maca Root Benefits for Athletes
Maca roots have been shown to help boost energy and endurance in athletes and bodybuilders. A pilot investigation found that a 14-day maca extract supplementation significantly improved participants' 40 km cycling time performance but encouraged long-term clinical study to further evaluate maca roots' efficacy.[xi]
What is Ginseng?
Ginseng is a perennial plant belonging to the genus Panax. The fleshy roots of ginseng have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Several clinical studies have also shown that ginseng can be an effective dietary supplement that may help boost energy, reduce occasional stress, and promote relaxation.[xii]
There are 11 different varieties of ginseng, with the most common ones being Asian Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) and American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius).[xiii] Wild Ginseng is abundantly found in North America, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, India, Bhutan, and Siberia.
According to an industry report, the global ginseng supplement market size stood at USD 3.3 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% from 2021 to 2027 to reach a market value of USD 5.5 billion by 2027.[xiv]
Nutritional Value of Ginseng
When consumed in small quantities (0.5 - 2.0 g), ginseng may not add calories or fats to the body.[xv] However, it is a source of several bioactive phytochemicals, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.[xvi]
Triterpene glycosides or ginsenosides are the most important active compounds found in ginseng. The two types of ginsenosides abundant in ginseng are: protopanaxadiol (PPD) and protopanaxatriol (PPT).
Several other compounds such as polyacetylene and phenolic compounds such as maltol have been identified in ginseng.[xvii] Researchers have also found the presence of salicylic acid, vanillic acid, gentisicacids, p-coumaric acid as the primary phenolic antioxidants in ginseng.[xviii]
What are the Health Benefits of Ginseng Supplements?
Each ginseng variety is found to have different effects due to the difference in their active compound concentration. While American Ginseng is believed to promote relaxation, the Asian variants are known to help boost energy due to their stimulating effects—although both can have relaxation and energy boosting effects.
These are some of the key areas in which ginseng-based supplements may offer significant benefits:
Tiredness and Fatigue
Several studies show that ginseng may help fight tiredness and boost energy. The polysaccharides and oligopeptides in ginseng are linked to lower oxidative stress and higher energy production in cells to help deal with fatigue in healthy adults.
A four-week study explored the effects of giving 1 or 2 grams of P. Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) and concluded that volunteers given P. Ginseng experienced less physical and mental fatigue, as well as reductions in oxidative stress than the placebo group.[xix]
A review that analyzed over 155 studies on ginseng's effects on fatigue and physical performance suggested that ginseng supplements can help reduce fatigue and enhance physical activity.[xx]
Mental Health and Cognitive Functioning
The active ginseng constituents such as ginsenosides, gintonin, and compound K have shown to potentially help improve cognitive functioning in healthy adults.
A clinical trial on the effect of P. Ginseng in healthy volunteers (n=90) with mild cognitive impairments demonstrated that volunteers showed significant improvement on the visual learning test and the visual recall test after six months of P. Ginseng treatment compared with the placebo group.[xxi] Similarly, a 2018 report showed ginseng may help reduce oxidative stress, leading to enhancement in cognitive function in healthy adults.[xxii]
According to a study, P. Ginseng improves aspects of mental health and social functioning after four weeks of administering ginseng.[xxiii]
The Verdict – Create Your Supplement With NutraScience Labs
While both maca and ginseng are known to promote energy and improve sexual health, it is essential to understand the correct dosage. Identifying the appropriate variant of Maca and Ginseng is also vital in improving the potency of the supplements and ensuring the correct formulation.
With over 80 years of experience and deep domain expertise, NutraScience Labs can help you create customized ginseng or maca root supplements. Our supplement contract manufacturing facility is both cGMP and ISO-certified and is equipped with state-of-the-art encapsulation, powder blending, and tableting machines. Enjoy peace of mind knowing you’re bringing high quality supplement products to the market that are formulated to meet your customers’ health needs!
In addition to best-in-class contract supplement manufacturing, NutraScience Labs provides award-winning packaging and label design and convenient order fulfillment solutions. Offering these services under one roof reduces product lead times and enables you to bring your product to the market faster than your competitors.