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Research on  MACA's Composition

Forty years of extensive research has been undertaken of Maca's nutritional and medicinal values (Obregón. 1998), confirming the traditional claims of Maca's health benefits. Maca's high nutritional value comes from the fact that it contains about 59% carbohydrates, 14% proteins, 9% fiber and 2% lipids among other components (Garró, 1972; Garró, León y Julca, 1993, and Deni A., Migliuolo G.Rastrelli L., Saturnino P., and Schefino O.; 1994; Cabieses 1997). Maca contains:

1) a large number of essential amino acids, such as aspartic acid, glutamic acid, serine, glycine, arginine, valine and lysine (Garró, 1972);

2) fatty acids: palmatic acids, linoleic acid and saturated fatty acids;

3) minerals (mg/100g), Fe 16.6, Mn 0.8, Cu 5.9, Zn 3.8, Na 18.7, K 2,050 and Ca 150, and

4) vitamins, Thyamine (B1),
Riboflavin (B2), and Vitamin C (Garró, 1972 and Deni A., et al, 1994).

However, the major importance of Maca comes from the combination of its nutritional elements with other components giving heightened nutritional/medicinal effects. Thus:

1) 4 alkaloids named macaina 1, 2, 3 and 4 have been detected, which stimulate the reproductive system of both sexes (Chacón, 1962; Garró, León, and Julca, 1993); it is considered that the alkaloids in Maca activate the calcitonine hormone that regulates calcium and phosphorus metabolism and activates the parathonnone involved with same metabolism;

2) the high presence of the amino-acids lysine and arginine in Maca has an effect on the regulation of female and male fertility respectively; arginine constitutes 80% of male reproductive cells, thus, Maca could solve problems related to deficiency of these amino acids, leading to lack of sexual desire and originating certain types of male and female infertility;

3) among its components are certain sterols, (Espinoza and Poma, 1995): Brassycosterol, Ergosterol, Carnpesterol, delta 7.22 Ergostadienol, and specially Sitosterol (Dini A. et al, 1994). Correction of menopause problems and an increase in female fertility are attributed to Maca sterols and lysine;

4) glucosinolates have been found, specially benzyl isotiocyanate (Johns, 1980); this author finds that worldwide, plants with glucosinolates, like Maca, are consumed because of their action on reproductive hormonal processes, and

5) fructose, a monosaccharide sugar with 173.3 degree of sweetness, superior to glucose, is present; fructose is recommended for combating athletes' fatigue; fructose is a sugar utilized by seminal plasma to give energy to spermatozoids.

Tests on guinea pigs, frogs, cattle, sheep and certain observations made with human beings showed:

1) increase in female fertility and the production of seminal fluid in males;

2) animals fed with Maca had the same weight as those fed on other products, but, those fed with Maca were more active and energetic, that is to say, Maca is a great source of energy without fattening;

3) young born from female fed on Maca had higher birth weight;

4) it may control rickets and osteomalacia in children and adults;

5) it may revitalizes physical and intellectual capabilities,

6) it may be effective against premature aging and organic feebleness with the loss of energy, and

7) it may control different kinds of anemia.

In summary, the Peruvian Andes offer Maca as one of the best natural revitalizing and invigorating substances that exist; for this reason it is called an Andean Ginseng. In general, Maca can overcome energy wear and tear caused by the modern accelerated way of life, poor nutrition and inadequate social and hygienic environment.



Bibliography

 

Dini A., Migliuolo G., Rastrelli L., Saturnino P. and Schettino O., "Chemical composition of Lepidium meyenii", in Food Chemistry 49, London, UK, 1994.
Chacón, G. Estudio fitoquímico de Lepidium meyenii Walp Thesis, Universidad Nacional Mayor San Marcos, Lima, 1962.
Espinoza, C.L. and Poma 1. P., Determinación de amino ácidos esenciales de la maca (Lepidium meyenii) y elaboración de una mezcla protéica a base de alimentos andinos, Thesis, Universidad Nacional del Centro del Perú, Huancayo, 1995
Fitomédica, "Maca, ginseng andino", in Fitomédica, Madrid, 1998.
Garró V. Nuevo sistema de solventes para cromatografía de aminoácidos y participación cuantitativa de L-valina y L-metionina, Doctoral Thesis, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, 1972.
Garró V. León E. and Julca T.B., " Extracción, separación e identificación por cromatografía de alcaloides de Lepidium meyenii Walp. (Maka), Instituto de Química Orgánica Aplicada a la Farmacia, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, VI Congreso Peruano de Farmacia y Bioquimíca, October, 1993.
Johns, Timothy A., Ethnobotany and phytochemistry of Tropaeolum Tuberosum and Lepidium Meyenii from Andean South America Ph.D. Thesis, The University of British Columbia, Canada, 1980.
Obregón, L., Maca, Planta medicinal y nutritivo del Perú, Instituto de Fitoterapia Americana, Lima, Perú, 1998.


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