How does nickel affect the body?

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 11.04.2020

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The word "nickel" means - never guess! - mischief. This microelement got its name from the German word Nickel - that was the name of the mountain evil spirit, which supposedly threw copper ore to the miners. When this ore was smelted in smelters, poisonous gases of arsenic were released from it, which is why very long nickel was considered a very harmful substance. How does nickel actually affect the body?

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Is it really dangerous nickel?

This micronutrient was discovered in 1751 by Krondstedt, the Swedish minerologist. But no good for the human body from nickel was not found until the 1970s. Later, as it turned out, nickel still needed the body, only in very small quantities. Nickel for a long time did not recognize because it has very high toxicity, that is, it can have serious side effects on health. Thus, additives with additional doses of nickel are rarely required, and as a rule, a person gets enough of it in the usual menu.

What does nickel look like?

Nickel is a metal, which is usually painted in a silvery white color. Nickel is often combined with other metals, forming mixtures, known as alloys. Nickel is contained in the earth's crust, which means that a certain amount of it is found in water, soil, air and food. Most of the nickel in our body comes from foods that contain this trace element. You can also get a dose of nickel as a side effect of tobacco smoking.

Nickel in food

Nickel is found in some food products, but in very small quantities. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans consume about 170 μg of nickel every day, when they eat the usual foods. The foods with the highest concentration of nickel are chocolate, soy, nuts, oatmeal. Tap water and cigarette smoke also contain a small amount of nickel. Coin processing also implies a small amount of nickel, when you take the coins in your hand, nickel penetrates the bloodstream through the skin.

Useful properties of nickel

Nickel is a part of every cell of our body. It plays an important role in the metabolism of certain proteins and can contribute to the production of hormones, lipids and cell membranes. Nickel is also used for our body to convert glucose into energy.

According to the book Healthy Nutrition, Fitness and Sport, a small amount of nickel can help our body form enzymes that accelerate chemical reactions in the body, especially to help in the formation of new nucleic acids and DNA.

Nickel Toxicity

Too much nickel is considered highly toxic and can have negative health effects. The most common side effect of nickel is allergic reactions to it, registered according to the Center for Disease Control. The ingestion of too much nickel in the body can cause gastrointestinal disorders, increased red blood cell levels, renal stress, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and in some cases lung cancer.

Toxic effects of nickel

Drinking water, which has a large amount of nickel, about 250 of its particles per million, can cause problems with the kidneys and blood cells, but this is a rare phenomenon. The inhalation of smoke or dust that contains nickel compounds can occur if you work in hazardous industries or in environmentally unfriendly areas. This can lead to a decrease in lung function, bronchitis and an increased risk of lung cancer and cancer.

How does nickel actually affect the body?

Dietary recommendations

A high-food diet that contains nickel can increase the risk of side effects associated with high levels of nickel intake. If you are allergic to nickel, avoid food and jewelry that contains nickel. Currently, there is no recommended daily dose of nickel, however, according to the National Agricultural Library, the upper permissible level of nickel intake is 1 mg in adults.

Small doses of nickel in the body - this is normal, but its increased level can be associated with potentially harmful environmental effects.

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Physiological use of nickel

Nickel is important for many animals. For example, rats and chickens need to include nickel in the diet to prevent liver disease. It is not yet known whether nickel deficiency is important for human health. According to the US Information Institute, the low level of nickel in the body is associated with kidney and liver diseases. Nickel can also play a role in the functioning of specialized proteins, known as enzymes.

Nickel allergy

The most common way of negative influence of nickel on the human body is allergic reactions. Allergy to nickel often causes contact dermatitis, which is a rash on the skin. This happens when you touch the nickel. This reaction usually occurs between 12 and 48 hours after you have been exposed to nickel. It can affect people of any age. Your skin can become red, dry and itchy, and sweating can make an allergic reaction to nickel worse. Allergy to nickel can be treated with OTC drugs.

Allergy to nickel manifests as contact dermatitis, usually on the hands. Nickel affects a person from contact with jewelry, buttons, fasteners, cosmetics and detergents, but some foods do contain nickel and can cause an exacerbation if consumed. Most of the nickel-containing foods, except for mussels, are grains, nuts and legumes that have absorbed nickel from the soil. A diet low in nickel can be more healthy and balanced.

Products with low nickel content

It is important to include in the menu sources of food with a low content of nickel and avoid foods with a high content of nickel. Products with low nickel content include beef, ham, poultry, cucumbers, cheese, milk, yogurt, onions, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, corn, pumpkin, carrots, apples, pears and strawberries.

Other foods that are low in nickel include the liver, kidney and sausages, but these foods should not be eaten immediately, but in small portions if you want to stick to a healthy diet. These sources of protein with a high content of saturated fats and cholesterol should be consumed in moderate amounts.

Chocolate / Cocoa powder

According to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, chocolate is one of the foods with a high nickel content. Bitter sweet chocolate contains a concentration of nickel of 2.6 μg / g, milk chocolate contains a concentration of nickel of 1.2 μg / g and pure cocoa powder contains a nickel concentration of 9.8 μg / g. The nickel content in chocolate is high due to the powerful processing process and constant contact with stainless steel machines.

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Cashews also contain a relatively high concentration of nickel. The concentration of nickel cashew nuts is 5.1 μg / g. Consumption of cashew nuts can bring health benefits, such as the prevention of gallstones, the development of cardiovascular diseases and the maintenance of bone and muscle health.

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Red beans are another dietetically rich source with nickel content. The concentration of nickel in red beans is 0.45 μg / g. Beans are also a very good source of protein, fiber, folate and magnesium, which can have a beneficial effect on health. Consumption of beans is beneficial for heart health and regulation of blood sugar levels.

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Spinach contains a large amount of natural nickel, 0.39 μg / g. Spinach is also an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium and potassium. The consumption of spinach brings many useful properties, such as anti-inflammatory activity of the body and the prevention of cancer, as well as the consequences associated with the high concentration of antioxidants in it.

Nickel is an element that is naturally found in soil and in many foods and beverages. According to the US Nickel Institute, a certain amount of nickel is important for seed germination and proper growth.

The Nickel Institute of the USA also reports that nickel plays an important role in maintaining proper nutrients in the soil of the Earth. You may be allergic to nickel, which can lead to skin reactions. If you have this allergy, you may need to monitor your intake of nickel. The amount of nickel in food depends on the soil in which this food has grown, and the pesticides used in food equipment. Some foods and drinks that you consume may contain nickel.

Oatmeal, nuts and dried fruits

Nickel can be found in products such as oat flakes, nuts and dried fruits, such as apricots. These products contain a small amount of nickel. Studies indicate that the presence of nickel in the body can help maintain a healthy level of calcium in the blood. MayoClinic.com reports that if you are allergic to nickel, you may need to limit the consumption of nickel-containing products. Consult your doctor to discuss the appropriate rates of nickel intake.

Drinks with nickel

Beer, tea, coffee and all this together can be a source of nickel. Consumption of nickel from food sources can cause exacerbation of dermatitis. To avoid this, or a possible allergy to nickel, you can control or limit the consumption of these nickel-containing beverages.


Canned food

Canned food is a source of nickel. Canned food can include beans, vegetables, fruits and fish. If you are allergic to nickel, it is worth limiting the consumption of canned products containing nickel.

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