Considered the ultimate “nutrient booster,” we can benefit from fulvic acid when we take it as a supplement or acquire it naturally from coming into contact with more dirt/soil outdoors. How? As an active chemical compound, fulvic acid works in a way that helps us absorb and use other nutrients better — such as microbiota/probiotics, antioxidants, fatty acids and minerals.
Because it’s able to improve how our cells take up things like antioxidants and electrolytes, fulvic acid has become popular for slowing down aging, improving digestive health and protecting brain function. (1) Due to its unique chemical structure, it’s able to fight free radical damage that contributes to the process of aging and nearly every chronic disease there is.
So what is fulvic acid exactly, and how does it benefit health? Let’s dig in.
7 Fulvic Acid Benefits and Uses
Fulvic acid is one of two classes of humic acidic, organic compounds found in the earth’s soils, rock sediments and bodies of water. Over the past several decades, we’ve learned a lot more about how humic substances found in dirt, including fulvic acid, can actually improve human gut health and therefore immune functions. While people used to obtain higher amounts of humic acids naturally from the soil, today they often turn to food-grade supplements to boost their nutrient intake and improve gut health.
Fulvic acid is found in nature as a product of microbial metabolism processes, which means it’s produced when organic plant matter decomposes and millions of beneficial healthy bacteria are released. That’s why fulvic acid is able to do the following:
1. Improves Gut Health and Immune Function
Fulvic acid and other humic acids contain a plethora of nutrients that improve gut health, including: trace minerals, electrolytes, fatty acids, silica (which boosts collagen synthesis), prebiotics and probiotics. These help nourish the digestive tract and also boost the ability of “good bacteria” to repopulate and form a healthy “microbiome” environment. We need a strong digestive system to build immunity, help control hormone production, regulate our appetite, reduce our stress response and much more.
For hundreds of years, an ancient remedy known as shilajit, which contains roughly 50 percent to 60 percent fulvic acid, has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide scope of health benefits that can be traced back to poor digestive/immune health. A poorly working gut is where many chronic health conditions take shape, which is why leaky gut syndrome is so harmful. (2)
As a result of gut permeability (when particles are able to escape through the gut lining and enter the bloodstream where they shouldn’t normally be), inflammation is triggered and autoimmune reactions can occur. There is some evidence that consuming fulvic acid can help decrease digestive disorders and other issues, including: SIBO symptoms (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), inflammatory bowel disorders, bacterial infections (respiratory, urinary tract, etc.), or the flu and common colds, for example.
2. Helps Boost Digestion and Nutrient Absorption
Acquiring enough electrolytes and other trace minerals is important for proper metabolic functions, digestive health and nutrient assimilation. Organisms we obtain from fulvic acid can be taken in small doses and still cause fast, significant improvements in the ratio of bacteria living in the gut, helping lower many unwanted digestive symptoms like constipation, bloating, diarrhea and food sensitivities.
Besides providing raw nutrients, fulvic acid transports minerals and other nutrients to cells more effectively, boosts absorption rate of nutrients by making cells more permeable, and fights inflammation within the digestive organs. (3)
Another benefit of taking fulvic acid as a supplement is that it helps restore the body’s optimal pH level. By alkalizing the body and preventing an overly acidic environment from forming, humic acids might be able to help prevent long-term illnesses from developing and improve defense against harmful bacteria, fungus, yeast and other organisms.
3. Protects Cognitive Health
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that fulvic acid has several antioxidant, nutraceutical properties with potential activity to protect cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease. (4) A contributing factor to the development of cognitive disorders is free radical damage and also a type of protein called tau, but studies show that fulvic acid helps lower the length of tau fibrils and their morphology, disassembling their performance and stopping disease progression. The researchers concluded that fulvic acid is likely to provide new insights in the development of potential natural treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
4. Improves Detoxification
Humic acids are beneficial for digestion and improving energy because of their detoxifying abilities. As a form of natural chelation therapy, humic acids are capable of binding to and breaking down toxins and metals that enter the body through the food supply, water, prescription medications, household products and air pollution.
Within the environment, fulciv acid is found in not only soil and rock, but also streams, lakes and ocean water. Humic acids form complexes with ions that are commonly found in the environment, creating tight humic colloids binds that help with water filtering, agriculture processes and detoxification The presence of carboxylate and phenolates within humic acids gives them the ability to act like natural chelators, which means they form chemical complexes that are important for regulating bioavailability of metal ions like iron, calcium, magnesium and copper within the human body and environment.
Studies have found that humic acids have ion-selective electrodes that can be used for attracting heavy metals — even for filtering soils and water because they help bind to things like copper and iron. Research shows they’re even effective at geochemical processing of soils and aquatic environments at much lower concentrations than other types of chemicals. (5)
5. Lowers Free Radical Damage and Inflammation
Free radicals are present inside of all us, since they have roles for fighting pathogens, supplying energy and regulating hormones, but too many speeds up the aging process and results in disease formation. The combination of our exposure to environmental pollutants, low nutrient intake, and harmful activities like smoking, too much UV light exposure and eating processed foods has created a big problem in regard to raising free radical damage.
Fulvic acid contains antioxidants that counter the effects of free radicals and also help detoxify the body of many toxins that contribute to the problem: chemicals used in agriculture, radioactive waste and heavy metals, for example. It also helps extend the permeability and life of cells by providing electrolytes that have numerous functions within the heart, muscles, brain and digestive tract. (6)
6. Improves Energy Levels and Lowers Pain
Many people taking fulvic acid have reported improvements in energy levels, probably due to increased detoxification, lower levels of inflammation and free radical damage, and higher intakes of electrolytes and other key nutrients.
According to research done by Doctors Across Borders, studies have found that as natural and organic electrolytes, humic acids activate and energize nearly every biological process in the body. An electrolyte is soluble in water and works by conducting electrical currents, helping cells survive in the face of damage caused by things like emotional stress, uncontrolled infections, unbalanced diet, prolonged loss of sleep and surgical shocks. (7)
This also makes fulvic acid useful for lowering chronic nerve pain, headaches, joint pain caused by arthritis, or bone and muscle pains associated with aging. There’s some evidence that fulvic acid’s electrolytes can help reduce swelling, decrease inflammation, soothe and relax muscles, and improve circulation. Conversely, an electrolyte imbalance can cause these symptoms to worsen.
7. Repairs and Protects the Skin
Some evidence suggests that humic acids can help protect the skin and treat wounds or irritations caused by things like eczema, bug bites, scrapes and rashes associated with fungus/microbes. A study published in the Journal of Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigative Dermatology found that fulvic acid supplementation significantly improved symptoms associated with eczema, even compared to other other eczema treatments. (8)
Historically, fulvic acid has been used as a rash remedy to help treat poison ivy, poison oak, viral infections, spider bites and athlete’s foot. While this benefit is based more on anecedotal evidence than clinical studies, it makes sense considering fulvic acid improves circulation and immunity while lowering pain and susceptibility to infections.
How Fulvic Acid Works
As a supplement made for human consumption, fulvic acid can be found in liquid form and also as a solid, mineral substance. Something unique about fulvic acid compared to other organisms found within soil is that it’s able to easily pass through cellular membranes, allowing it to be properly absorbed and also boosting assimilation of other nutrients or supplements. (9) In fact, it has benefits for plants, soil fertilization and water/agriculture supplementation for the same reason — it improves plants’ ability to grow due to how it increases permeability of plant membranes that absorb nutrients from the ground.
Its structure is made up of aromatic, organic polymers with many carboxyl groups that release hydrogen ions, resulting in an electric charge that helps attract free radicals, heavy metals and other toxins within the body, allowing it to act like a detoxification agent. Once it becomes reactive with metals, fulvic acid helps them become more soluble in water, which means they’re carried out of the body more easily.
As a major source of key electrolytes and antioxidants, fulvic acid helps slow down aging and control inflammation. It’s been shown to improve various cellular processes, muscle functions, digestive abilities, heart and brain health. Fulvic acid helps cells absorb the amount of minerals they need and discard of waste by acting as an ion transporter. It also stimulate the immune system to help defend the body from things like viruses and infections. (10)
Fulvic Acid vs. Folic Acid: Are They Similar?
Folic acid and fulvic acid might sound similar, but they’re actually very different. Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin, which is why they are sometimes called vitamin B9. Folate occurs naturally in folate foods (especially vegetables, whole grains and beans), but folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin that’s added to some foods and supplements.
Most people assume that folate and folic acid are the same thing with similar benefits, but in fact folic acid is not naturally occurring like folate is and not usually capable of producing the same effects. Still, it’s estimated that about 35 percent of adults and 28 percent of all children in the U.S. use supplements containing folic acid, yet it’s been shown to act differently in the body than folate when it comes to helping with cellular functions, nutrient synthesis, liver and kidney health.
While folate is easily and naturally absorbed and utilized in the small intestines, folic acid requires the presence of a specific enzyme named dihydrofolate reductase, which research suggests is relatively rare in the body. Because of this, folic acid can remain in the bloodstream and cause side effects, including changes in sex hormones, cognitive problems like trouble concentrating, inability to sleep, mood changes and deficiencies in certain nutrients like vitamin B12 deficiency. Instead of taking folic acid supplements, you’re better off preventing folate deficiency by eating foods like leafy greens, such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, beef liver, broccoli, peas and beans.
Fulvic Acid Dosage and Supplement Facts
Here are several ways you can use fulvic acid as a supplement: (11)
- Liquid or “water fulvic acid”: There’s some evince that fulvic acid is more bioavailable when taken in liquid form as opposed to solid or chunk-form, which must be broken down by the digestive system before the nutrients can be utilized by the cells. When taken as a liquid, it seems to enter cells more easily. Read dosage directions carefully since using too much can alter mineral levels in a potentially dangerous way. Most liquid products come in extract form and require using about 12 drops at a time with 16–20 ounces of filtered water.
- Solid fulvic acid supplements: Fulvic acid is a yellow color and doesn’t have a very appealing taste on its own. That’s why many people choose to mix powdered fulvic acid into juice, a smoothie, etc., to mask its unpleasant taste. You can add fulvic acid to liquid or take it with supplements to help supercharge their abilities and improve bioavailability. It’s recommended that you use fulvic acid with filtered water (not tap, chlorinated water). Liquid products might be sterilized to a lesser degree, which preserves beneficial heat and chemical-sensitive nutritional components, so avoid supplements that say “sterile humic acids.”
- Organic crops: Although this is an indirect way to get fulvic acid, you also consume more by eating organic produce since it’s used to naturally replenish minerals and other nutrients within soil and commonly present in natural fertilizers for growing organic crops. Buying organic foods increases your nutrient intake in several ways, because oftentimes modern farming methods don’t allow for the enrichment of soil to occur, instead overcrowding fields and using pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to inhibit natural microbial strains we need.
Regarding dosage and when to take fulvic acid, this depends on if you take medications and when you eat. It’s a good idea to take fulvic acid around the time of eating since it counteracts and detoxifies contaminants — such as pesticides, chemicals, etc., found in foods that are not organic. You can take it a half hour before eating or two hours after eating to improve detox abilities. If using medications, take fulvic two hours after or before. Chlorine interacts with humic acids in a negative way, so always use filtered water if possible.
There are various brands available today, but shilajit is one ancient supplement used in Ayurvedic medicine that has a lot of research supporting its benefits. It contains 85 minerals in ionic form, as well as triterpenes, humic acid and high amounts of absorbable fulvic acid. (12)
Why We Need Exposure to Soil-Based Organisms
The nonstop use of antibiotics, food pesticides, hand sanitizers and detergents, along with antibacterial overkill, in our germ-fearing culture might seem like a good thing — but in reality, just like other animals we are meant to come into contact with earth’s many organisms. Today, the fact that we live in an oversanitized world poses real health problems, including lowering our ability to absorb nutrients from our diets, impairing immunity, and raising susceptibility to infections and other illnesses.
On top of acquiring less natural bacterial organisms from the outdoors, we’re also running low in many key nutrients due to modern farming practices that deplete soils and lower plants’ antioxidants, vitamins and mineral content. Most adults and children today come into contact with less dirt, soil, organic crops or plants, and ocean water than past generations did, meaning our immune systems don’t have the chance to become familiar with many different organisms and therefore don’t learn to protect us as well as they could.
In the past, our food supply was higher in naturally occurring fulvic acid and other nutrients because soils were less depleted, pesticide/herbicide chemicals were sprayed far less often, and people were less concerned about sanitizing their produce until it was squeaky clean. Unfortunately, many people today don’t have access to many organic foods and are deficient in at least several key nutrients, due to eating a highly processed diet and also as an effect of oversanitizing, which causes poor gut health.
Because our immune system is largely made of healthy bacteria that live within the gut and thrive off of various nutrients, our overly clean, highly processed lifestyle makes absorption of nutrients more difficult and raises the risk for many health problems and deficiencies associated with poor gut health. Research has shown that exposure to more natural organisms found in soil, such as fulvic acid, has benefits for:
- boosting nutrient absorption
- gut health
- cognitive functioning
- improving energy levels
- protecting us from infections, viruses, yeasts and fungus
- boosting skin health
- slowing down aging
- and more
Are There Any Fulvic Acid Side Effects?
Research suggests that fulvic acid is safe for most people to take, although there hasn’t been much research done in special populations, such as those with impaired immune systems or pregnant women. It seems to be mostly safe and pose few side effects because an overdose isn’t possible, considering it’s completely natural, found in all soil and easily flushed from the system once consumed.
The side effects that are known seem to come about when people take high amounts of fulvic acid in pure form. It’s best to start slowly and increase your dosage in increments to make sure you experience no side effects. Diluting fulvic acid is safer than taking it alone in high amounts.
If you have a disorder that results in abnormal immune functions, such as an autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, you shouldn’t take fulvic acid without being monitored since it can activate the immune system and complicate your condition. Because not enough is known about how it affects hormones in pregnant women, it’s also best to stay away from using fulvic acid supplements if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding (although consuming it in small amounts from dirt and produce is perfectly fine).
Fulvic Acid Takeaways
- Fulvic acid is considered the ultimate nutrient booster that improves gut health and immune function, helps boost digestion and nutrient absorption, protects cognitive health, improves detoxification, lowers free radical damage and inflammation, improves energy levels and lowers pain, and repairs and protects the skin.
- You can supplement with fulvic acid in different forms: liquid or water fulvic acid, solid fulvic acid supplements, and organic crops.
- Research has shown that exposure to more natural organisms found in soil, such as fulvic acid, has benefits for digestion, boosting nutrient absorption, gut health, immunity, cognitive functioning, improving energy levels, boosting skin health, slowing down aging, and protecting us from infections, viruses, yeasts and fungus.
- The side effects that are known seem to come about when people take high amounts of fulvic acid in pure form. It’s best to start slowly and increase your dosage in increments to make sure you experience no side effects. Diluting fulvic acid is safer than taking it alone in high amounts.