We can say that humic acid is a broad term that refers to a complex mixture of many different acids that are soluble in alkaline solutions. They exist naturally as part of the life cycle of nature.
Humic acids (HA) are a class of compounds formed as a result of the decomposition of organic substances. In natural humic acids, high-molecular-weight chemical compounds are formed by the so-called “humification”. In other words: everywhere in nature we meet them as decomposition products of organic substances, in particular plants; HAs are natural constituents of drinking water, soil and lignite.
Humic acid structure
Humic acid can be defined as an organic matter obtained by decomposition and having a long molecular chain with a high molecular weight. Humic acid is insoluble in strong acids and has a pH below 2, dissolving only in an alkaline medium.
Why are humic acids valuable?
Humic acids have long been used to stimulate plant growth. They have also been used as part of replacement therapy and to increase feed conversion rates in dogs, cats, malnourished and diarrhea calves, and other animals.
Humic acids are a very valuable natural (natural) resource that has a number of undeniable positive effects on the organisms of humans, animals and plants.
Humic acids have the ability to tightly bind pollutants in the body of an animal or human. Since they are not absorbed by the body and cannot enter the bloodstream, the body gains an additional ability to bind toxins that are excreted through the intestines before damaging effects can occur.
In addition, HAs protect the intestinal mucosa with recognized anti-inflammatory, adsorptive and antitoxic properties.
Natural humic substances have antioxidant properties that can support animals during the stressful period of weaning.
The concept of using humic acid as a feed additive is gaining more and more importance in modern animal husbandry and is becoming an excellent alternative to the use of antibiotics in feed as growth promoters. Since humic acids have an unusually wide range of applications and have no side effects, their value and demand in the nutrition of domestic and farm animals only increases every year.
How do humic acids work on organisms? What is the peculiarity of HA over other mineral sorbents (coal, sand, clay)?
Due to their high molecular weight, humic acids are not metabolized, but remain in the intestinal tract, where they help to solve the problems with digestion, restoring normal intestinal activity. A special positive effect is that humic acids form a thin protective layer on the intestinal surface, which protects against infection and the effects of pathogens. In the case of damage or inflammation of the intestinal villi, HA also promotes rapid regeneration.
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, HA removes toxins and cleanses the body without disturbing the balance of nutrients in the body. In other words, HA does not wash out vitamins and minerals from the intestines; this principle of their action is the main advantage over other sorbents, for example, such as coal, sand and clay.
Unlike humic acids, the above-mentioned mineral sorbents (coal and clay) are not suitable for long-term use, since they can cause indigestion, and also lead to a restriction of the absorption of beneficial nutrients and trace elements in the digestive tract.
Benefits of humic acids:
- Cleansing the body of toxins
Humic acids have one characteristic and important feature, they selectively remove only toxins and do not affect the internal balance of nutrients when used in normal doses, which is very important in the case of regular or long-term use.
- Improving feed conversion (efficiency)
Humic acids promote healthy intestinal villi formation, which in turn increases nutrient intake, thereby increasing feed efficiency.
- Reducing the number of infections and inflammations
Humic acids, due to their natural properties, accumulate in the inflamed areas of the intestine, concentrating in problem areas. A multiple reduction in the risk of infection and the formation of harmful processes is recorded.
- Growth stimulant
Humic substances are used as natural growth enhancers due to their antioxidant, antifungal, detoxifying and antiseptic properties. HA has a positive effect on the acceleration of growth by increasing the metabolic activity of cell membranes.
Sources of origin of HA? Where do humic acid products come from?
Humic acid foods come from a wide variety of sources. The richest HA content is found in ancient sediments, which were formed as a result of natural life processes (death) of plants and animals in wetlands. Over time, these massive layers of decaying material become covered with sand or rock formations, further enriching these deposits. Then, some sediments rise above ground level and oxygen enters them, which contributes to the formation of humic acids. These deposits are developed near the surface and are often referred to as “lignite” or “leonardite”. It is these deposits that make up the majority of humic acid products today.
How is humic acid formed?
When plants and animals naturally die, their substances enter the soil where they are used by other organisms. Bacteria, fungi, protozoa, earthworms and even insects consume biodegradable products. After long periods of time, when the decaying substance has been processed (eaten) and transformed over several life cycles, a durable material remains that resists further decay, called humus. The above described process is called “humification”.
Humus is a general term that refers to a very complex and stable compound that is resistant to further decomposition and consists of three components – humic acids, fulvic acids and humin.
Safety of HA use (research in the world)
Humic acids not only have the ability to counteract the oxidative process, but are also able to supply a large amount of trace elements needed by farm animals and pets. There is growing interest in the use of humates as a feed additive, since it has been proven that they can have a beneficial effect on digestion, growth and the immune system of poultry, pigs, goats, sheep, cattle, etc. HA is already widely used as a growth stimulant as well as to improve the productivity and health of pets.
Numerous independent studies have shown and proven that weight gain and improved animal health is directly related to the positive effects of humic substances. Adding HA as a dietary supplement through drinking water or diet increased the digestibility of the feed consumed.