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Shilajit vs Maca Root: A Detailed Comparison

Shilajit and maca root have both risen to superfood fame in recent years. These two natural supplements offer a variety of health and performance benefits that make them very appealing options for anyone looking to boost their overall well-being.

But with so many purported benefits attributed to shilajit and maca, it can be tough to determine which is better for your needs. This article will provide a detailed comparison of shilajit vs maca root to help you decide which of these superfoods is right for you.

What is Shilajit?

Shilajit is a thick, tar-like substance that seeps from rocks in high mountain ranges across Asia, most prominently the Himalayas. Composed of humic substances, plant matter, and minerals, shilajit has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat various health conditions.

Some of the key components found in shilajit include:

  • Fulvic acid – A potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that enhances nutrient absorption
  • Dibenzo-alpha-pyrones – Compounds that increase testosterone and energy levels
  • Trace minerals – including zinc, magnesium, iron, copper, and more

Benefits of Shilajit

Science is beginning to back up some of the traditional uses of shilajit. Here are some of the top evidence-based benefits:

  • Increases testosterone – Multiple studies have shown increases in testosterone levels and reproductive health in men taking shilajit supplements. The boost in testosterone may enhance muscle growth, energy, libido, and more
  • Boosts energy – By increasing cellular energy production, shilajit can fight fatigue and give you more natural vigor. It may enhance physical performance for athletes as well
  • Stimulates the immune system – Shilajit activates several types of immune cells, helping your body mount stronger responses to viruses, harmful bacteria, and other pathogens
  • Alleviates altitude sickness – Shilajit has been used traditionally to adapt to high-altitude environments. It seems to help the body compensate for lower oxygen availability
  • Protects the brain – Antioxidants in shilajit guard against cellular damage and deterioration in the brain. Regular use may help reduce cognitive decline
  • Manages blood pressure – Studies indicate shilajit supplements can decrease high blood pressure. This may lower the risk of heart disease
  • Fights viruses – Early research shows combining shilajit with antiretroviral drugs may better control HIV virus replication compared to the drugs alone
  • Relieves fatigue – Shilajit may help fight persistent tiredness associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. It enhances energy metabolism in the body’s cells

In addition to those benefits, shilajit may help control diabetes symptoms, reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate allergies, and relieve digestive issues like ulcerative colitis when combined with other treatments.

What is Maca Root?

Maca root comes from a plant native to the Andes Mountains of Peru. It’s an adaptogenic herb traditionally consumed as food and medicine. The root comes in several colors, most often yellow, black, and red.

Maca root powder contains:

  • Protein – Including amino acids
  • Fiber – Aids digestion
  • Vitamin C – Immune-boosting antioxidant
  • B vitamins – For energy metabolism
  • Calcium – For bone health
  • Copper – To form red blood cells and regulate nerve transmission
  • Iron – Oxygen carrier for energy
  • Potassium – Muscle and nerve function

Benefits of Maca Root

Like shilajit, science has confirmed some of the traditional uses for maca root. Here are some of the top research-backed benefits:

  • Increases libidoStudies show maca can boost sexual desire and performance for both men and women. It’s been used to treat sexual dysfunction.
  • Fertility enhancementMaca improves sperm quality and motility in men. In women, it balances hormones to improve chances of conception.
  • More energy – As an adaptogenic herb, maca helps regulate adrenal glands and reduces fatigue. It can also enhance sports performance.
  • Hormone balance – Maca alleviates menstrual issues and menopause symptoms in women. It also benefits male hormone balance.
  • Mood support – Maca has antidepressant and anxiety-reducing effects. It improves overall feelings of wellbeing.
  • Cognitive protection – Antioxidants in maca guard the brain against free radical damage. It may preserve mental acuity into old age.
  • Bone health – Nutrients like calcium and vitamin C promote strong bones and reduce risk of osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women.
  • Skin health – Maca contains flavonoids and fatty acids to nourish and protect the skin. It reduces acne and wrinkles.

On top of those advantages, preliminary research indicates maca may help control blood pressure, reduce prostate size, alleviate anemia, and lessen side effects of antidepressant medications.

Comparing Shilajit vs Maca Root

Now that we’ve covered the basics on shilajit and maca root individually let’s compare them head-to-head:


  • Shilajit comes from mountain rocks, maca root grows in soil


  • Shilajit – Humic/fulvic acids, dibenzo-alpha-pyrones, minerals
  • Maca – Protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals

Traditional use

  • Shilajit – Ayurvedic medicine
  • Maca – Andean cultures


  • Shilajit – Resin, powder, capsules
  • Maca – Whole root, powders, capsules


  • Shilajit – Tarry, bitter taste
  • Maca – Malty or butterscotch flavor


  • Shilajit – 200-500 mg daily
  • Maca – 1,000-3,000 mg per day

Gender benefits

  • Shilajit – Testosterone for men
  • Maca – Hormones for men and women

Other advantages

  • Shilajit – Energy, immunity, brain health
  • Maca – Libido, fertility, mood, skin


  • Shilajit – Generally safe, but avoid iron overload
  • Maca – Very safe for most people


  • Shilajit – More expensive
  • Maca – Very affordable

Key Differences in How Shilajit and Maca Work

While both are adaptogens, shilajit and maca have some distinct differences in how they work in the body:

  • Shilajit action – The main bioactive components in shilajit are fulvic acid and dibenzo-alpha-pyrones. Fulvic acid acts as a powerful antioxidant and mineral transporter to energize cells and protect the body from damage. Dibenzo-alpha-pyrones directly increase testosterone synthesis and energy metabolism.
  • Maca action – Maca contains many beneficial plant compounds like macamides and macaenes. These nutrients don’t directly affect hormones but support overall endocrine system function. Maca also supplies vitamin C, B vitamins, and minerals that provide natural energy.

Unique Health Benefits

Each superfood also has some unique advantages not shared by the others:

  • Shilajit unique benefits
    • Enhances mitochondrial function and ATP energy production
    • Protects against high altitude sickness
    • Supports detoxification of heavy metals
    • Neuroprotective benefits for Alzheimer’s
  • Maca unique benefits
    • Natural antidepressant and mood enhancer
    • Reduces anemia and fatigue
    • Protects bone mineral density
    • Alleviates prostate enlargement

Optimal Dosages

The dosages differ substantially between shilajit and maca:

  • Shilajit dosage
    • 200-500 mg per day
    • Higher end for athletic performance
    • Lower end for general wellness
  • Maca dosage
    • 1,000-3,000 mg per day
    • Higher doses for menopause and fertility
    • Lower doses for everyday wellbeing

Possible Side Effects

Potential side effects also vary between the two supplements:

  • Shilajit side effects
    • Excess iron absorption in some users
    • Mild allergic reaction
    • Upset stomach
  • Maca side effects
    • Insomnia if taken before bed
    • Acne breakouts
    • Digestive discomfort

Pairing Shilajit and Maca

While both adaptogens can be taken alone, some people use shilajit and maca together to get the combined benefits, which may include:

  • Greater energy and stamina
  • Enhanced strength and endurance
  • Libido and fertility boost
  • Balanced hormones
  • Elevated mood and mental clarity

The optimal pairing dosage would be ~250 mg of shilajit + 500-1,000 mg of maca. Start low and increase gradually as needed.

The Bottom Line

Shilajit and maca root are two of the most popular adaptogenic superfoods today. Both offer a variety of evidence-backed health and performance benefits.

Shilajit stands out for increasing testosterone, energy, immunity, and brain health. Maca excels at libido enhancement, fertility, hormone balance, mood support, and more.

Decide which advantages line up with your personal goals. Combine the two superfoods or pick the one that suits your needs best. Either way, adding one of these powerhouse supplements to your routine can significantly boost your path to optimal wellness.

About the author

Holden Desalles is a journalist in the new wellness space, covering topics such as CBD, adaptogens, and nootropics. He was formerly a staff writer at the millennial lifestyle website Thought Catalog.
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