What about Supplements?

Balancing a nickel food allergy and adequate nutrition can be challenging on the low nickel diet. Many people have asked me whether or not I take supplements. Personally I have from time to time used supplements, but I don’t regularly like relying on them. 

Previously I’ve taken fish oil, vitamin D, C, E supplements and a super vitamin B complex when I can tell my diet lacks specific natural vitamins. Now, I only take the super B-complex, magnesium and vitamin C multi-vitamin a couple times a week. I do take the Benefiber daily to assist with my fiber intake.

Personally I’ve tried taking chewable 500 mg of vitamin C tablets with a meal and though I enjoy the way they taste, the supplement had limited positive benefits with reducing the absorption of nickel in my body. You may have other results.

I’m very reluctant to take iron supplements as our bodies can store excess iron and the only way I know how to eliminate it from your body is by regularly donating blood. In addition, hemochromatosis, an iron disorder where “the body loads too much iron” is a genetic condition that runs in my family. 

My hesitancy to regularly take supplements is based in the fact that in the U.S. where I live supplements aren’t regulated like pharmaceuticals. Many of the ingredients in supplements include terrible fillers that can actually make things worse by including things high in nickel. Some of these fillers, like soy, can be listed on the label; while others are not.

Individuals have asked me about quercetin, bromelain, or psyllium. I don’t know what to say, as I’ve never tried them. Yet, it’s always recommended you reach out to a medical professional or physician regarding your personal situation, supplements and their relationship to allergies.

Choosing to reduce my nickel absorption naturally, I have experienced success when I include foods high in vitamin C, like oranges, berries, bell peppers, and iron, such as beef or my 50% iron fortified Rice Chex cereal in my diet. 

If you have found a certain supplement that work well for you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

  1. Thanks for your valuable information. I have systemic contact dermatitis from Nickel that mostly in Soy milk that I was drinking! I live in the Seattle area and I also just learned that the soil from Northern California to Canada (west of the Cascades) is extremely high in nickel from its volcanic history! Thanks again.

  2. David,
    You’re welcome. I am glad you’ve found the information I write on my website so useful! I have lived in Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah where the soil is also very volcanic!

  3. Hi Christy,
    Just wanted to thank you for your blog. You have given me hope. I am currently struggling with dishydrotic eczema and have yet to pin point the root cause. I have come across some research that states it is related to nickel allergy (which I have). I have not been officially told by my allergist that my allergy is systemic but it is on contact (patch test). Is there a different test to confirm a systemic allergy? It makes me wonder why my allergist didn’t go further on tests and never recommended a low nickel diet. As a matter of fact, he insisted it has nothing to do with my diet. From what I have gone through so far, I think I need a new allergist.
    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Tara,
      Thank you for your kind words about me and my blog. I am glad you’ve found hope through my story. Dyshidrotic eczema looks terribly painful.
      I did a skin patch test and tested positive for nickel. My dermatologist then told me about the low-nickel diet and suggested I try it for a month. My skin cleared up so radically within the month. Formally he did not tell me I have systemic nickel allergy syndrome formally, but it was in the chart notes he wrote. I only met with a dermatologist, not an allergist.
      I’ve read the low nickel diet is controversial in some medical circles. I also don’t know if all physicians know about the diet as a viable solution to clear up eczema caused by nickel allergy. I’d enjoy hearing how it goes if you do try the low nickel diet for a short period of time.
      Warm regards,

    2. My doctor laughed at me when i asked about nickel food allergy but i changed my diet anyway and its the first time I’ve felt i had any control over my dishydrotic eczema. Lets face it the creams barely help. And Before i was literally living off of nearly every high nickel food on the list. Its been hard to adjust but i dont wake up in the middle of the night in an ichy induced rage ready to rip my skin off lol so you win some you lose some lol but i’ll never give up chocolate. Also i found it crazy how much this explained things for me. They always recommend oatmeal baths or oatmeal lotion for eczema and this always made things worse for me. Low and behold oats are on the no no list. And also beer has always made me horrifically sick and when reading about this i found an article that said some beer companies add nickel to their beer to prolong the stability of the foam. Go figure! Doctors don’t know everything the only way to know for sure is to change your diet and see if you have any results. Best of luck to you 🙂
      Side note: thank you so much for this website. It is so incredibly hard to find information on this topic.

      1. Hi Jessica,

        Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. I apologize for my delayed response, I’ve been having technical issues with my website for the last several months.

        That’s so terrible about your doctor laughing at you. WTF? It costs the same to see a good doctor as it does a bad doctor, but the emotional toll of seeing a terrible doctor isn’t worth the energy. So much of dealing with this unique allergy is becoming your own self-advocate.

        That’s wonderful the low nickel diet has improved your eczema. It is quite the adjustment and self-care is a necessary aspect, as we’ll all still itch from time to time. We can try to prevent the itch, but sometimes acceptance is the answer than being hard on ourselves, especially when we’re already going through hard life stuff.

        I have pretty much given up chocolate, as my reaction isn’t worth it. I love peanut butter and arugula salad more. Oats have also always been terrible for my skin, especially lotions derived from oats. It wasn’t until I read your email that I also learned about how nickel is added to beer! I refuse to drink beer because of it. Thank you so much for telling me. It’s so wonderful to learn from each other. I hope to write an article about nickel and beer and other alcohol pretty soon!

        Warm regards,

    1. Hi Renuka,
      I have taken vitamin E before. It was told it can be beneficial for the skin. I always caution supplements are many times their other ingredients can contain nickel or unregulated ingredients. Perhaps it’s best to consult your own physician about a specific brand that creates vitamin e supplements.
      Warm regards,

      1. Would you mind sharing what Vitamin E you were using without any issues? I want to add Vitamine E but I am not sure which one since most of them are derived from sunflower kernels or soy.

        1. Hi Tim,
          It’s the Spring Valley E 400 IU with no gluten, no added preservatives, no artificial colors and no artificial flavors.
          Warm regards,

  4. I have found that avoiding using my kettle and boiling water in a glass pan has reduced my eye allergies which I believe is caused by nickel. The difference this has made to my life is incredible as I constantly had dry and eyes and swollen eyelids. I discovered this at a friends house where I boiled some bottled water in her kettle and it caused my eyes to react immediately. I had previously been drinking the bottled water with no effect and I rinsed the kettle with bottled water before boiling it. The only new factor was the kettle which I realised had nickel in the element that heats the water. Now I avoid it with great results.

    1. Hi Hayley,
      Thanks for your comment. I used to use a stainless steel kettle for years. I could have contributed to my systemic nickel allergy. Now I use a glass kettle I found at Bed Bath and Beyond for under $10. It might be easier to use than a glass pan. I write about it in my The Question of Tea post.
      Warm regards,

  5. Hi Christy,
    I am just here reading up on Nickel allergies. As I know I’ve had skin contact allergy to nickel (not from a test) but from the rashes I’ve gotten on my skin from any jewelry with the exception of platinum. I am curious now, never considering that foods could cause a reaction in my skin too. I’ve never had a rash from eating anything — so I guess my question to you is: How would a dietary Nickel allergy present itself? Digestion? Acne? rash? Watery eyes? (All questions) please share what you know. Thanks for writing on this topic – as I read there are many correlary foods in the celiac diet off limits.

    1. Hi Kate,
      Thanks for your comment. If you read my nickel food allergy story, you’ll see how I have a skin patch test that revealed I am allergic to nickel. Yet since I don’t wear jewelry, my doctor suggested I try the low nickel diet and my eczema resolved. For some they do experience gut, digestion, itchy eyes and acne. Everyone’s reaction is very different including which foods some can or cannot tolerate.
      Warm regards,

  6. I was diagnosed with nickel allergy in September 2018. I have given up chocolate, peanut butter, multigrain breads and cereal, wheat, soy. It is hard at times, but I continue to educate myself on what foods are low in nickel.
    I am having a hard time finding a bread for my lunches which now consist of turkey & cheese.
    Thanks for your blog.

    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. I make my own bread or have found some at my local artisan grocery store that has a bakery section. The bread is expensive at $3.00 a loaf, but they only use white flour, olive oil, yeast, water and salt. I used to purchase a couple loaves at a time and freeze them in half loaf increments. I also like Carr’s table water crackers for meat and cheese and they use palm oil instead of soybean oil.
      Warm regards,

      1. Wow I am not alone! I believe i have contributed to my nickel allergy as ive had over 13 piercings all over my body over the past 17 years, i had a chemical patch test done about 6 weeks ago by my dermatologist.. who also claims it has nothing to do with my diet, just contact, but have removed nickel from my clothing, no more jewelry, buttons, holding keys and coins, but i cannot shake the full body rashes, but burning red hot on the inside of my elbows. My chest, neck and legs, with several trips to the emergency room these past 2 years due to swelling of eyelids, lips, tongue etc. The doctors dont know what to do with me. So i guess i have to be my own advocate on this one, any tips for a severe nickel allergy diet. I dont eat the obvious canned foods and processed meats.. but i feel like its something in my everyday diet that im just not aware of. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Sincerely yours, a very itchy red blotchy rash..

        1. Hi April,
          Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found my website. If you do decide to try a low nickel diet it can take 4-6 weeks to experience results. My eyelids, lips, neck and elbows always experience eczema first when I eat foods higher in nickel. There’s lots of great information on my website. This page discussing my nickel food allergy story and linking to other helpful posts is a great place to start.
          Warm regards,

      2. Hi! I thought I read on one list that palm oil is high in nickel, which given the fact that palms grow in climates similar to pineapples, etc., made sense to me. Am I wrong, or did you just find that palm oil is OK for you?

        1. Hi Tina,
          Thanks for your comment. I am able to tolerate palm oil. I’ve never noticed it on any of the lists that identify what foods are higher or lower in nickel. Like the refining process for soybean oil, it could have some nickel in it, but I don’t actually know for sure and I have been able to tolerate it. However my preferred oil to cook/bake with is olive oil.
          Warm regards,

    2. I had nickel contact for years, and then the most awful itching rash started, in the end I had patch testing done and the only thing I had a reaction to was nickel, Doctor said I had a significant reaction and perhaps a low nickel diet, which has worked wonders on my skin but I am now having lot of joint problems is there an connection

      1. Hi Maria,
        Thanks for your comment and I’m glad to hear the low nickel diet has helped relieve some of your symptoms. I’m not aware of joint issues related to systemic nickel allergies or the low nickel diet. You might want to seek medical care regarding that issue.
        Warm regards,

  7. I am trying to find a vitamin D supplement to take that is low nickel and ideally vegan…vegetarian at least. I just wondered what brand you were able to take without it bothering your eczema.
    Thanks for all of your information! It has been super helpful!

    1. Hi Amy,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my blog! I prefer the brand Nature Made. The lack of regulation over supplements in the US makes it difficult to know whether or not supplements are vegan or low nickel as the companies aren’t required to disclose their ingredients.
      Warm regards,

  8. Which vitamin E supplement did you take please? I an suffering with terrible dry skin as a result of cutting nuts and seeds from my diet.

    1. Hi Nettle,
      Thanks for your comment. I don’t take vitamin E supplements. I once bought some from Costco that were their Kirkland brand but I never really took many. Have you tried eating more vitamin E rich foods, like red peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, asparagus, rainbow trout, salmon, cod, snails, mangos, blackberries, kiwi or avocado? Or perhaps looked for lotions high in vitamin E?
      Warm regards,

      1. Hi Christy,
        I’m just starting to navigate my low nickel diet. I noticed above you mention trying broccoli and salmon among other things for Vitamin E. I was under the impression that Salmon and Broccoli had high nickel content and were foods to avoid. Do you have a particular list of foods and their nickel values you refer to.
        Thank you so much

        1. Hi Fiona,
          Thanks for your comment. I use this list – and have also found this resource helpful – she offers a low nickel app that’s useful. Since some of us can tolerate some foods over others, it’s suggested to use a food journal for awhile to truly identify what you can personally tolerate and what else may also trigger your eczema. I write more about tips to using a food journal here.
          Warm regards,

  9. Dear Christy,
    I followed for sometime a few years ago and it was very helpful and doing the nickel free diet helped me a lot. I have known I was allergic to nickel since I was 16 in the 90’s but only had to watch contact items Locke jewelry and lotions. After having my 2nd kid I had a terrible time and was diagnosed with Dystortic eczema And following the diet and soaking in ACV helped, However I could never quite clear it.
    I have since found out that when I had my tubes tied back in 2011 the doctors left behind Filshie clips without me knowing. They contain nickel, so for 7 years my body struggled. I immediately had them removed and my skin cleared up completely in a month!!! I ask still allergic to jewelry other than pure 14/18k yellow gold and have to watch my lotions, shampoos and such, but my goodness how crazy to think that those clips were left behind without my knowledge. They are made form stainless surgical steel, but the silicone coating contains nickel, my doctor and I only found out by calling the manufacturer to confirm after which he agreed to remove them. I am not sure if the company now has any earring label or changed their policy? I know that as of 2012 ( of course I missed the date) they are no longer allowed to leave them behind without consent. But I wonder how many other out there have them and don’t know?? I only found out cause I had to get an X-ray of my hip after having pain after a fall. I wanted. To share this so maybe you could pass it along….if it even helps one woman figure it out?? It changed my life!!
    Thank you, and keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Danielle,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. I’ve published your comment on my website, so others may find it useful. Unfortunately there’s a lot of researching where individuals have had metal implants and allergies/sensitivities after the fact, both dental and medical. The FDA has only started to take noticed, after many patients rose the issue to their attention last year. Glad you were able to get that metal out of your body.
      Warm regards,

  10. Hi Christy!
    My doctor told me that most B12 or B vitamins containing B12 contain nickel and colbalt and that I should stop taking my B12 supplement. Have you heard anything like this before? If you have, is this B vitamin complex you have pictured one that is nickel/colbalt free? I have finished about 8 weeks of my nickel free diet and am trying to reintroduce as I have a B12 deficiency that keeps me pretty tired! Thanks!

    1. Hi Carly,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure about B supplements specifically containing nickel. Most supplements generally contain heavy metals and in the US, companies aren’t required to disclose their ingredients. Some foods higher in B vitamins do contain nickel, such as legumes, seeds and leafy greens. But there are other foods, like meats, eggs and citrus fruits that are lower in nickel, but higher in B vitamins. I’m not really sure how companies derive their supplements, if it’s actual using real food or synthetically in a lab. Unfortunately I don’t have a supplement I know that’s cobalt free, as I don’t know much about what foods/items are higher in cobalt. However, I like to use the Nature Made Super-B Complex, in the image of this blog post. I don’t have to take it regularly, as I’ll only take it from time to time, like when I might have a canker sore in my mouth. Hopefully that helps or you’re able to find one your like.
      Warm regards,

  11. Hi Christy, I thought I’d tell you about some trouble I’ve had which started about 3+ years ago – I didn’t even realise that I had a nickel allergy but I now believe that it is that. I would get blisters on my fingers after certain foods – I mistakenly didn’t have dairy for (far too) many years as I thought it was that which gave me the trouble but realise now it was foods with nickel. My skin developed a fungal reaction on the broken skin and intermittently it would clear up – the last time it happened it stuck for months and was so painful. I started taking B12 regularly (which I’d taken a bit here and there) – it cleared up the fungal trouble and since I realised it was B12, have been taken high strength B12 (1000mcg) every day since. Strangely enough it was this awful fungal thing that caused me to look further into the trouble on my fingers which helped me discover it is a nickel allergy – so good has come from bad. It has cleared up a list of health issues as long as my arm (which started in my 50s) – but with regard to the nickel allergy (and dishydrotic eczema) I thought this information could be very important to some of your readers. The other things it has helped me with is it’s helped me be less sensitive to allergens that affected my breathing (dustmites and some foods) – I had started using my inhaler nearly every day, and don’t need it at all now – I can run up hills and get a lung full of air. I’d be interested to know if there is a test for systemic nickel allergy – I’d also value thoughts about egg as I’m sure I get a reaction with egg. Your site has been extremely helpful in my search for answers – thank you 😉

    1. Hi Tracey,
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your interesting story. Nickel allergies are very common with dishydrotic eczema. I’ve not heard about those fungal issues or B12 helping with nickel allergies or environmental allergies. I do eat eggs and dairy all the time, almost daily for both! The best “test” for systemic nickel allergies is skin patch testing to identify the nickel allergy and then to try the low nickel diet for 2-4 weeks and see if you experience improvement in eczema and for some gut symptoms too.
      Warm regards,

  12. Hi I’ve been doing some independent research into supplements for a nickel allergy and am curious if anyone has heard about taking NAC Zinc or Quercetin?

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