Humic acids are compounds found in soils, oceans, and streams formed from the decomposition of organic life. New research on humic acids reveals that humic acids have many benefits for human health. In this article, we are going to discuss humic acids and fulvic acids in detail.
What Is Humic Acid? What Is Fulvic Acid?
Humic acid is a term getting more attention recently in the health industry. The term “humic acid” refers to a complex mixture of many different acids naturally found in the earth’s soils, rivers, and oceans. Humic acids are the fully decomposed remains of organic life.
When organisms die, their molecules disintegrate and become available in the soil for use by other organisms, such as bacteria, protozoa, fungi, earthworms, and insects. Eventually, when the decaying matter has been consumed and recycled through multiple life cycles, the remaining material is a very stable material that resists further decomposition, known as “humus.”
The word humus is a general term for these stable complex compounds resistant to further decomposition. Humus comprises three constituents—humic acids, fulvic acids, and humin.
Humic and fulvic acid are both soluble in an aqueous base. On the other hand, humus is the insoluble component of humus that remains after humic and fulvic acids have been extracted.
Humus overall is an essential component of healthy soil. Research on humic and fulvic acid has shown that they have many potential benefits for human health.
What Is the Difference Between Fulvic and Humic Acid?
While both fulvic and humic acids are formed through the decomposition of organic matter and are essential humus components, there are some distinct differences between them.
Humic acids are large molecules that are dark in color and combine mixtures of carbon chains and carbon rings. Humic acids are not soluble in solutions with an acidic pH. They are, however, soluble in solutions with an alkaline pH.
In the soil, humic acids play a very beneficial role by unlocking nutrients and binding to them, making them available for plants to take up their roots. Humic acids also bind to toxic heavy metals and prevent them from entering plants. In addition, humic acids stimulate the activity of soil microbes, increase cell permeability in plants which enhances nutrient absorption, increases water retention in plants, and promote the growth of plant roots and shoots. They are truly unique compounds that are vital to soil and plant health.
Fulvic acids are very small molecules compared to humic acids. Unlike humic acids, fulvic acids are also soluble in solutions of any pH. Also, unlike humic acids, fulvic acids have a gold color and are much more biologically active as they contain nearly twice as much oxygen.
Fulvic acids chemically bind to nutrients in the soil and transfer these nutrients into plants. However, similar to humic acids, fulvic acids can bind to toxic heavy metals and prevent them from entering plants. Research suggests that fulvic acids are the most effective chelating compounds in nature (a chelating compound is a compound that tightly binds to heavy metals). Fulvic acid is so effective as a chelator due to its electrical size and its electrical charge.
Humic And Fulvic Acid Benefits for Humans
Now that we know what these critical compounds do for soil let’s look at how they impact human health.
There are many fulvic and humic acid benefits. Both fulvic acid and humic acid remain relatively niche health supplements and have yet to make it into the eyes of the mainstream. However, they are truly incredible compounds that have a range of potential benefits for human health.
It is much more common to find a fulvic acid supplement than a humic acid supplement, and usually, these supplements are combined with minerals as well. However, some fulvic humic acid supplements are available that combine the two acids.
To understand the benefit of taking a mineral supplement combined with fulvic acid or humic acid, let’s refer to the critical role these acids play for plants. Plants, like humans, depend on minerals for many biological functions.
As stated above:
“Humic acids play a very beneficial role by unlocking nutrients and binding to them, making them available for plants to take up their roots.”
“Fulvic acids chemically bind to nutrients in the soil and transfer these nutrients into plants.”
Humic acids make nutrients more bioavailable to plants, while fulvic acids transfer these nutrients into plants. Essentially, they work synergistically to enhance the bioavailability of soil nutrients for plants.
They play a similar role in humans. We do not have to worry about unlocking the nutrients in the soil since humic acid has already accomplished this for plants. Simply by eating plants, we can benefit from these critical soil minerals. However, we need to ensure that the nutrients we consume from plants are getting digested, absorbed, and assimilated by our bodies.
Fulvic acid has a much smaller size than humic acid. Because of fulvic acid’s very small molecular size, it has a unique ability to penetrate through the cell membrane. Additionally, because fulvic acid has an electrical charge and is a powerful chelator, it can bind to minerals and effectively deliver them into the cell.
So, a fulvic acid mineral supplement can potentially bind to the minerals in the solution and, when consumed, can effectively deliver these nutrients into the cell. The fulvic acid enhances the bioavailability of minerals tremendously.
On the other hand, Humic acid is a much larger molecule, is not as powerful of a chelator, and is only soluble in alkaline solutions. While it does provide some benefits, it is not as effective as fulvic acid at binding to nutrients and delivering them into the cell.
For this reason, a fulvic acid mineral supplement is much more beneficial than a humic acid mineral supplement and even a fulvic humic acid supplement.
Because of these unique properties, fulvic and humic acids are often combined with other minerals into a mineral complex. However, there are still supplements available that are exclusively fulvic acid or exclusively humic acid and do not contain a mineral complex. These dietary supplements are utilized for the unique benefits that these acids offer, irrespective of their ability to enhance mineral absorption.
Humic Acid Benefits
Fulvic acid has been studied more extensively than humic acid. So there is more research available about the potential benefits of fulvic acid than there is on the potential benefits of humic acid for humans.
Some of the reported humic acid potential benefits include:
- Stimulating the immune system and supporting immune system health†
- Alleviating symptoms of cold or flu†
- Fighting lung conditions†
- Protecting against viral infections†
- Supporting thyroid health†
- Boosting circulation†
- Improving skin health†
- Reducing muscle pain†
- Fighting free radicals†
- Enhancing cognitive function†
While humic acid is commonly used for these purposes, not all uses have medical research to support them. Still, studies suggest that humic acid may support immune system health, circulatory health, and cognitive health and may also prevent mineral deficiencies.
Fulvic Acid Benefits
Research on fulvic acid has found that it offers many benefits to human health. Some of the potential fulvic acid benefits include:
- Enhancing nutrient absorption†
- Providing cellular detoxification†
- Removing toxic heavy metals from the body†
- Supporting immune system health†
- Reducing inflammation†
- Fighting free radicals†
- Supporting brain function†
- Supporting weight loss†
- Improving thyroid health†
- Lowering cholesterol†
- Enhancing energy and athletic performance†
- Improving muscle strength†
- Relieving altitude sickness†
- Boosting cellular function†
- Supporting healthy testosterone levels†
- Enhancing gut health†
Fulvic acid is truly a fantastic compound with many potential benefits for health. It can be found in fulvic mineral supplements and large quantities in shilajit. Shilajit resin is a natural mineral resin from the Himalayan mountains that form from the decomposition of organic matter over many thousands of years. It naturally contains fulvic and humic acids and over 80 carbon bonded minerals. A Shilajit fulvic acid supplement is a great way to get naturally occuring fulvic acid in your diet. It is one of the only fulvic acid foods, or at least the only food that contains fuvlic acid in significant enough quantities to receive real benefits.
Are Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid Safe?
Fulvic acid and humic acid are both safe for consumption in moderate doses. There has not been enough research to determine their safety in high doses. However, they are both considered very safe substances, and there are no known side effects to ingesting recommended dosages of fulvic acid or humic acid.
Shilajit, however, is a supplement that contains organic fulvic acid and humic acid and may contain large doses of metals in its raw form depending on the source. For this reason, we recommend only supplementing with a shilajit formula that is lab-tested and obtained from a pure source.
While humic acid and fulvic acid are both considered safe, they may interact negatively with certain medications. If you are taking any medications, speak to your doctor before supplementing with humic acid, fulvic acid, or shilajit. In addition, if you are pregnant, nursing, or have pre-existing health conditions, consult your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.
Humic acids and fulvic acids are components of humus, which is organic matter formed from many cycles of decomposition. Humus is essential to soil health, and both fulvic and humic acids play vital roles in soil and plant health.
Humic acid and fulvic acid have many benefits for human health as well. While more research is needed to support the many health claims attributed to these substances, the current research shows that they provide many unique health benefits. Fulvic acid, in particular, has been shown in many studies to have a multitude of health benefits.