The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of fulvic acid (FA) and humic acid (HA) as the two main compounds of humic substances, separately on Fe and Mn homeostasis. Seventy-two male Wistar rats were randomly divided into 9 experimental groups. The control diet (AIN-93G formula) and diets supplemented with 0.1%, 0.2%, 0.4% and 0.8% HA or FA were fed for 26 days. Fe and Mn concentrations of the large intestinal content, liver, kidney, femur and hair were determined. No significant differences were observed in the production parameters. The effects of FA and HA on iron homeostasis were significantly different. FA proved to be a good iron source, and slightly increased the iron content of liver and kidney, but - up to a dietary iron level of 52.7 mg/kg - it did not influence the efficiency of iron absorption. Above a dietary iron level of 52.7 mg/kg down-regulation of Fe absorption can be assumed. HA significantly stimulated the iron uptake and there was no down-regulation of Fe absorption up to 0.8% dietary HA supplementation level (61.5 mg Fe/kg diet). In the HA groups the iron content of the liver and kidney decreased significantly, suggesting that in spite of the better Fe absorption, the HA-Fe complex does not provide iron to the investigated organs. Neither FA nor HA supplementation influenced the Fe content of the femur and hair and slightly decreased the Mn concentration in the large intestinal content. This effect was significant (with a 22.7% Mn concentration decrease) only at the HA supplementation rate of 0.8%. Neither FA nor HA influenced significantly the Mn concentrations of the liver, kidney and femur. The Mn concentration of the hair in rats receiving FA- or HA-supplemented diets was higher than in the control rats; however, this result needs further confirmation.
Keywords: Fulvic acid; homeostasis; humic acid; iron; manganese; trace element metabolism.