Shilajit vs. Maca: Similarities & Differences Explained

Shilajit and maca are two herbal substances often compared due to their potential health benefits for energy, exercise performance, and sexual health.  Importantly, there are some key differences of shilajit …

Photo of author
Written by: Jack Cincotta, MS
Published on:
Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
Learn about our editorial process

Shilajit and maca are two herbal substances often compared due to their potential health benefits for energy, exercise performance, and sexual health. 

Importantly, there are some key differences of shilajit vs. maca root which can help determine which one is best for you.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of shilajit and maca, as well as their key compounds, health benefits, and how they compare across several important areas of health and wellness.

shilajit vs. maca root

Shilajit vs. Maca: Similarities & Differences Explained

Shilajit and maca are both natural substances with a long history of use in traditional medicine for boosting energy and vitality, improving endurance, and promoting better sexual health, among other things.

While there are many similar attributes between shilajit and maca root, there are also a number of important differences. Therefore, it’s important to gain a clear picture on both the shared and unique characteristics of these compounds.

First, it’s important to note that shilajit is not technically an herb but rather an exudate from the Himalayan mountain regions, as opposed to maca which is a root vegetable and true herb. 

Nonetheless, both shilajit and maca root are very high in minerals and other nutrients, which gives them the potential to positively affect many different bodily systems. Shilajit’s high nutritional content is also thought to benefit hair growth

In particular, shilajit and maca root may have benefits for sexual health. However, maca root has more research overall and has been shown to improve hormone levels and sexual function in both men and women, whereas the research for shilajit is generally more limited overall and typically for just male-related sexual function. Shilajit also seems to increase testosterone greater than maca root.

Regarding exercise performance, shilajit and maca root may improve endurance and strength through similar mechanisms such as enhanced oxygen uptake and greater nutrient partitioning to the muscles. 

Maca and shilajit also have a positive effect on energy levels, which is in part due to their high nutrient content. There are some different ways they may affect energy levels and vitality too. For example, maca root is more of an adaptogen which can help control stress and give the body a boost, whereas shilajit is mainly able to boost energy by helping transport nutrients to the tissues and increasing ATP production.

Lastly, there are similarities and differences between shilajit and maca when it comes to mental health and cognitive function. Specifically, maca and shilajit both seem to have memory-protective effects, which are in part due to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. However, maca root also seems to have some anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, which are in part due to its ability to reduce stress hormones.

Shilajit vs. Maca: Which One is Right For You?

Ultimately, shilajit and maca are both potentially powerful compounds for sexual function, athletic performance, energy levels, and brain function.

For Sexual Function & Hormonal Health

Based on current research, maca has more widespread benefits for sexual function and can help men and women, whereas the research on shilajit is generally limited to just men (although shilajit may have some benefits for women’s health). Therefore, women looking to improve aspects of sexual health seem better off with maca root while men could choose either.

Also, those looking to increase testosterone are better off choosing shilajit as it seems to be slightly better here. But maca root may also have favorable effects on hormones, so one could possibly combine the two for greater results.

For Exercise Performance

Regarding exercise performance, maca root is more well-researched, particularly for improving endurance. Shilajit seems best for individuals exercising in high altitudes. Otherwise their health benefits for strength and general athletic performance seem similar.

For Energy & Vitality

In the domains of energy and vitality, both supplements are beneficial. However, people looking for greater adaptogenic or anti-stress effects should go with maca root, whereas individuals aiming to boost energy more directly through enhanced ATP production should go with shilajit.

For Mental Health

Finally, let’s look in the area of mental health. To this end, if your goal is to improve memory and cognitive function, either shilajit or maca are useful as they both have anti-inflammatory and other neuroprotective properties. However, maca root is the better choice for decreasing anxiety and depression, likely due to its adaptogenic effects. 

Can You Take Shilajit & Maca Together?

Yes. You can take shilajit and maca together. There are no known interactions between these two compounds, and they are both generally recognized as safe.

A combination of maca root and shilajit may be particularly useful for enhancing energy, improving athletic performance, boosting memory, and aiding sexual function. Indeed, one may experience synergistic effects when combining these two as opposed to regular effects from consuming just one; however, this is not definitive or guaranteed.

In order to increase the likelihood of these benefits, it’s best to stick with the evidence-based dosages. For shilajit, research shows this is between 250 to 1,000mg taken during the day. For maca, the evidence-based dosage range is a bit wider since there are many forms, but it is generally anywhere from 1.5 to 10g per day. 

The Best Shilajit & Maca Supplements:

You can click here to learn more about the Best Shilajit Supplements and our Top Recommended Maca Root Supplements.

Recommended Shilajit
Recommended Maca
Pros:
  • Creator of "Gold-Grade" Shilajit
  • 3rd-Party Tested
  • cGMP-Certified
  • Direct-Source Relationship
  • Rich in Fulvic Acid
Pros:
  • 3rd-Party Tested
  • Certified Organic
  • Small Batch Produced
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
Recommended Shilajit
Pros:
  • Creator of "Gold-Grade" Shilajit
  • 3rd-Party Tested
  • cGMP-Certified
  • Direct-Source Relationship
  • Rich in Fulvic Acid
Recommended Maca
Pros:
  • 3rd-Party Tested
  • Certified Organic
  • Small Batch Produced
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO

Shilajit Overview:

Shilajit is a black resin found mainly in the Himalayan mountain regions, as well as some other highland mountain areas. It is formed over many years from the decomposition of organic matter, which results in a high concentration of minerals, trace elements, and other organic compounds, such as humic acids and fulvic acid. 

Traditionally, shilajit was used to improve immune system function and enhance various aspects of physical and mental performance.

Some of the most well-researched benefits of shiliajit are:

  •  Improved Testosterone Levels: According to limited clinical research, shilajit may increase free and total testosterone levels and other related hormones such as DHEA, making this a popular choice for increasing testosterone.
  • Improved Fertility: Clinical research has shown benefits for sperm health and testiscular function.
  • Increased Exercise Performance: Specifically, research shows shilajit may enhance physical performance by decreasing fatigue and promoting better recovery.
  • Combats High Altitude Sickness: Shilajit is nutrient-rich, supports immune system health, decreases inflammation and oxidative stress, and promotes higher oxygen-carrying capacity, all of which may defend against high altitude sickness.
  • Memory Improvement: This is due to shilajit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in the brain.

Maca Overview:

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is a root vegetable that grows primarily in the Andes mountain regions, such as in Peru and Bolivia. 

This plant has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years as a food source and remedy for boosting stamina and energy, improving sexual function, and mental acuity, among other benefits. 

Maca root is very nutrient dense, with impressive amounts of fiber, amino acids, minerals (such as iron), vitamins, and bioactive compounds, such as:

  • Alkaloids
  • Glycosides
  • Saponins
  • Glucosinolates

Over the years, research has shown that maca potentially has several health benefits, mainly:

  • Improved Sexual Health & Function: Clinical research shows that maca has wide-reaching effects on sexual function for men and women, including enhanced libido and decreased aging symptoms.
  • Enhanced Athletic Performance: Clinical trials show that maca may enhance endurance and improve strength, while reducing fatigue. 
  • Increased Energy Levels: Various clinical studies such as this one show that maca can reduce fatigue and improve energy levels & even quality of life.
  • Decreased Anxiety & Depression: Clinical research have shown that maca can decrease anxiety, depression, and other psychological symptoms.

Shilajit vs. Maca: Safety & Side Effects

Shilajit and maca are both considered generally safe to take for most people when used in appropriate amounts. Below, we’ll go over the specific safety profiles and side effects for each compound.

Shilajit Safety:

Shilajit is deemed safe for most and has little to no risk for toxicity or other events when consumed in the recommended doses from purified forms.

However, one major note is that unprocessed, unpurified shilajit may contain mycotoxins, heavy metals, and other contaminants which could cause toxicity and other significant side effects. Therefore, it’s essential to only choose purified supplements from well-trusted, established brands. Be sure to look for third-party testing verification and Certificates of Analysis.

Also, there aren’t any definitive drug or supplement interactions with shilajit established in the literature. Nonetheless, given how shilajit works in the body, it has the potential to interact with:

  • Medications that slow blood clotting
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Hypoglycemics or other anti-diabetic medications

Maca Safety:

Maca is also generally considered safe to take and free from major side effects for most individuals. However, long-term research is needed to put out more definitive conclusions.

Also, raw maca root in particular may cause digestive distress and related symptoms in some individuals. Therefore, choosing gelatinized maca may be better to limit this concern.

Other possible side effects are headache, insomnia, and jitters, although these don’t seem to be very common. 

Maca root currently doesn’t have any definitive drug or supplement interactions. 

Conclusion:

When comparing shilajit vs. maca, these are both herbal compounds with similar benefits, especially in the areas of sexual function, exercise performance, and brain function. 

The exact benefits differ from one to the other, so which one is best for you depends on your individual needs, goals, characteristics, and other factors.

Ultimately, either one can be used to improve sexual function, boost endurance and exercise performance, and enhance cognitive function. 

With that said, shilajit appears best for testosterone, memory, energy production, and for combatting sickness caused by high altitude; whereas maca root seems best for all-around sexual health (including for women), adaptogenic effects, and anxiety and depression. 

One can also combine shilajit and maca to possibly experience synergistic effects in the desired areas. 

Photo of author

About Jack Cincotta, MS

Jack has a Master of Science degree in Psychology and is also an AADP® Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and AFPA® Certified Holistic Health Coach. His passion is to help people develop optimal levels of health, particularly mental health.