I may receive a commission for purchases made through product links on this page, but I always stand by my opinions and endorsements!
Both Maca and Rhodiola are fantastic herbal supplements and I’m a big fan of them both.
But since herbal supplements have a lot in common, it might be hard for some people to decide between them.
Well if that’s you, you’ve come to the right website.
I started this Supplement Comparison series for that specific reason.
In each post, I take 2 types of supplement and put them head-to-head on benefits, price, side effects and much more to help you decide which one to use.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at Maca vs Rhodiola.
Let’s get to it.
What is Maca?
Maca (Lepidium Meveni) is an ancient root vegetable that’s been grown for a few thousand years.
Despite only becoming popular in the last 10 years, Maca’s been used nutritionally and medically since the days of the Inca warriors in Peru.
Appearance-wise, Maca looks like the everyday turnip, and its roots can grow in a variety of colors, including yellow, black, and purple.
What is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea) is an adaptogenic herb that’s been used throughout history for its health boosting properties.
Grown in lots of different countries such as Sweden, France, and Iceland, Rhodiola was believed to have been used by the Vikings to increase mental and physical endurance.
And to this day, many people still use Rhodiola thanks to its wide range of health benefits.
Benefits of Maca
Maca may increase libido
Low sexual desire is a common problem for adults as they age.
In fact, research suggests that up to 52% of US menopausal women experience low sexual desire.
So, it’s no surprise that many people look towards natural supplements to boost their libido.
And while a lot of these supplements fail to deliver on their promises, Maca is backed by solid research.
For example, a 12-week study investigated the sexual desire of men after using either Maca or a placebo.
After only 8 weeks, those who took Maca reported a significant boost in sexual desire.
Maca may protect skin from UV radiation
UV radiation is emitted from the sun, which can damage exposed skin.
Over time, this damage can lead to wrinkles and increase your risk of skin cancer.
According to research, topical Maca extract may be able to protect you from the UV rays.
In fact, this protective effect has been shown in animal studies, including this one on rats.
Just to be clear though, this effect has only been shown when Maca is applied directly to the skin.
Not when taken orally.
Maca is full of nutrients
Maca is an excellent source of many vitamins and essential minerals.
The nutritional value of 1 Oz of Maca root powder is as below:
- Iron: 23% of the RDI
- Copper: 85% of the RDI
- Potassium: 16% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 133% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 15% of the RDI
- Manganese: 10% of the RDI
So supplementing with Maca is a simple way to boost your nutrient intake.
Maca may improve Menopause symptoms
Menopause is defined by the period in which a woman’s menstrual cycles stop happening.
Although menopause is a natural phenomenon, it can cause a range of annoying symptoms, such as:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Vaginal dryness
- Sleep difficulties
If you do suffer from these symptoms, then you may want to give Maca a try as a review of 4 studies found that it can improve these symptoms.
(Related reading: 3 Best Fish Oil Supplements For Menopause)
Benefits of Rhodiola
Rhodiola may improve cognitive function
Many people supplement Rhodiola as a brain-boosting nootropic.
In one study, 56 night-shift workers took either 170mg of Rhodiola or a placebo every day for 2 weeks.
The results showed that the workers who took the Rhodiola had improved performance and less mental fatigue than the placebo takers.
Another study of students investigated the effects of Rhodiola on mental performance.
After 20 days of Rhodiola supplementation, the students reported improved sleep, more motivation and less mental fatigue.
Rhodiola may help reduce fatigue
Thanks to its adaptogenic nature, Rhodiola may help fight fatigue.
In one study, 100 chronic fatigue patients took 400mg of daily Rhodiola for 8 weeks.
By the end of the study, the patients experienced significant improvements in mood, fatigue, concentration, and quality of life.
In a similar study, 60 subjects with fatigue took either 576mg of daily Rhodiola or a placebo.
After 4 weeks of supplementation, the Rhodiola taker had significant improvements in fatigue levels compared to the placebo takers.
Rhodiola may improve exercise performance
One of the lesser known benefits of Rhodiola is its ability to improve exercise performance.
In one study, subjects took either 200mg of Rhodiola or a placebo 2 hours before completing a cycling test.
Interestingly, those who took Rhodiola were able to exercise for 24 seconds longer on average than the placebo takers.
In another study, subjects took either Rhodiola or a placebo before a 6-mile time trial cycle race.
Those who took Rhodiola finished significantly faster than the placebo takers.
Rhodiola may help lower stress
Rhodiola helps boost your body’s resistance to stress, thanks to its adaptogenic properties.
In one study, subjects with stress took 400mg of Rhodiola every day for 4 weeks.
After only 3 days of taking Rhodiola, the subjects noted improvements in stress-related symptoms including anxiety, fatigue, and exhaustion.
Another study investigated the effects of Rhodiola on stress-related burnout.
By the end of the study, those who took Rhodiola reported improved stress and depression.
Maca is generally sold as a powder or in capsules.
Here are some typical prices for these:
- Powder: $27 for 1 lb
- Capsules: $13 for 100
Rhodiola is primarily sold in capsules.
For mid-range supplement, you can expect to pay around $18 for 60 capsules.
Maca Side Effects
Maca is safe for most people, but those with thyroid issues should speak to a doctor before using it.
This is due to compounds called goitrogens, which may interfere with thyroid gland function.
Rhodiola Side Effects
Like Maca, Rhodiola is generally considered safe, although some people have reported dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness after taking it.
The following people SHOULD NOT take Rhodiola:
- Pregnant women
- Nursing women
- People taking MAOIs
My Maca Recommendation: The Maca Team Organic Black Maca
A premium quality Maca supplement that’s created by Maca lovers.
You’ll struggle to find a better Maca supplement than this one.
What I like about it
The Maca root used in this supplement has been pre-cooked, which makes it more absorbable and so more effective.
Also, it’s refreshing to see that this supplement is created by fellow Maca fanatics.
Well, it’s made by a brand who only focus on providing the best quality Maca available.
In other words, they can put every single ounce of resource of their company into good-quality Maca.
(Compare this to a massive company who makes 100s of other supplements, it’s easy to see which one will provide the better Maca.)
I don’t get why the recommended serving size is 8 capsules.
I mean, could The Maca Team not just make each capsule stronger?
I don’t know.
I mean, it’s not a huge problem.
Just a tad annoying.
My Rhodiola Recommendation: Gaia Herbs Rhodiola
Gaia Herbs Rhodiola ticks all the boxes of a quality Rhodiola supplement.
It’s highly rated, high quality and highly absorbable.
What I like about it
Gaia Herbs are at the top of their game when it comes to providing premium quality herbal supplements.
Each of their supplements are examined for microbes, pesticides, and heavy metals, which ensures you get a clean supplement that’s free from any nasties.
Also, Gaia Herbs are one of the very few supplement brands that provide full traceability of each product they sell.
In other words, when you buy one of their products, you can learn exactly how the herb in that specific product was grown, where it originated and how pure it is.
That’s pretty epic!
Another solid feature is that Gaia Herbs use liquid phyto-caps for their Rhodiola.
So, before they put their Rhodiola into capsules, they convert it to a liquid extract which makes it much more absorbable and useful.
As you’d expect, a product as good as this doesn’t come cheap.
But you need to ask yourself what you value more.
Quality or price?
(With supplements, it’s always quality for me!)
My goal of this Maca vs Rhodiola breakdown was to help you decide which of the 2 you should take.
And hopefully, you now know exactly which one’s for you.
Then don’t worry, the high-level guide below should come in hand:
You might prefer Maca if:
- You want to increase your sex drive
- Menopause symptoms are bugging you
- You want a simple way to boost your nutrient intake
You might prefer Rhodiola if:
- You suffer from fatigue
- You want to lower your stress
- You want the physical endurance of a Viking
Hope this helped!