No matter how many supplements you take or superfoods you eat, if you’re not absorbing all those nutrients properly—something that experts say is pretty common—you’re never going to get that superhuman feeling you’re after. But don’t go canceling your CSA subscription just yet. Several wellness brands are banking on a little-known ingredient to help you get the most out of your healthy diet: fulvic acid.
“Simply put, for cells to absorb nutrients they need electrolytes—or electricity—to allow for the flow of ions,” explains holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque. “Research has shown that fulvics are nano-sized molecules that are made up of highly active carbon, hydrogen and molecular oxygen molecules that pass through cell membranes with ease. Because of its strong charge, fulvic acid helps cells increase the absorption of nutrients and vitamins.”
Never heard of the organic compound? You’re not alone—but that’s about to change, as wellness innovators across the country have begun making it the centerpiece of their carefully tailored blends. You can take a straight shot of fulvic acid at Moon Juice‘s Los Angeles shops—just ask for the Zeus Juice—or incorporate it into your beauty routine with the new Skin Renewer shot that nutritionist Dana James concocted for LA’s Juice Served Here (alongside supporting actors like raspberries, rose essential oil, and colloidal gold). There’s even an entire adaptogenic tonic company—the recently launched Torii Labs—based around the power of the all-star ingredient.
It’s enough to make you start side-eyeing your bottles of vitamins.
Ready to learn more? Keep reading for all the facts on fulvic acid, the organic compound that just might be the secret to actually absorbing your supplements and superfoods.
The dirt on the super-compound
As the Torii Lab team explains, fulvic acid is “formed over time by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by microorganisms. It’s basically a contributing factor to a flourishing garden.”
Fulvic acid is naturally occurring—but many argue that we don’t actually get enough of it. What gives? According to LeVeque, although we should be getting these electrolytes from the soil our food is grown in, much of “our soil isn’t charged—it’s full of pesticides and [other] chemicals instead.”
Cue fulvic acid supplements and boosted shots, which create an environment to help cells absorb vitamins and minerals in food. (It does the same thing for the earth, detoxifying dirt and creating a fertile place for plants to grow.)
The fulvic factor
According to Torii Labs co-founder Giles Hayward, fulvic acid is the key that unlocks other ingredients’ latent potential. In the case of Awake Tonic, the company’s first product (available online and at forward-thinking wellness spots, like New York City’s The Alchemist Kitchen or LA’s Alfred’s Tea Room), he says it causes a more profound and immediate pick-me-up effect than would be possible without it.
“We use a proven combination of adaptogenic herbs to boost vitality, mental focus, and stamina,” explains Hayward, who also co-created fulvic acid-focused haircare company Phylia de M. “The fulvic acid increases the potency of each herb by ensuring that the body is able to absorb all the goodness in the tonic.”
In the all-natural coffee substitute’s case, that means an energizing mix of adaptogens (rhodiola rosea, eleuthero, schisandra) and superfoods including nutrient-dense goji berry, digestion-enhancing ginger, and circulation-boosting cayenne pepper.
“The fulvic acid increases the potency of each herb by ensuring that the body is able to absorb all the goodness in the tonic.”
Aside from the absorption element, Hayward adds that fulvic acid is a potent detoxifying agent—but that not all types of it are created equal. For that reason, Torii uses a proprietary kind called fulphyl, which is a byproduct of fruit and vegetable fermentation. “Fulphyl is produced on an organic farm, which eliminates any possibility of contamination with fossil fuels or heavy metals,” he says.
Sounds too good to be true—is it really legit? Studies have shown it to be a powerful player in everything from boosting immunity to treating Alzheimer’s disease. Anecdotally, Torii’s founders swear that fulvic acid has changed their health for the better—both Hayward and his business partner, Lulu Luchaire, claim they haven’t been sick since they started taking fulvic acid daily. As for me, I felt significantly more peppy after gulping down an Awake tonic at the end of a long day, in a way that I never do when taking adaptogens on their own—watch out, Wonder Woman.