Huel and nickel allergy

Hi guys,

I’d just like to start out by saying that I LOVE Huel and have gotten several of my friends hooked on it. I like the taste, and the ease, and that it’s a non-complicated vegan source of protein.

I have had it almost daily for several years and, in the beginning (for a brief period) combined it with a tea-spoon of ashwgandha… during these first couple of months, which also coincided with me moving to New York, my old childhood allergy flared up again and began causing rashes on my arms and legs… and I was then hospitalized and almost died from inexplicable (‘obscure, occult’) internal bleedings.

After 10 days at various hospitals in NYC with a billions tests, the doctors still had NO idea why I was bleeding. They couldn’t even find the bleeding, it was so obscure - but, as I wasn’t allowed to eat anything for a week (due to all the tests), the bleeding eventually stopped, and I was given 6 blood transfusions and sent home. I was very scared for a while that this would happen again and began looking for a reason.

Then I read that ashwagandga (which I’d only taken for a brief period in less than a prescribed dose as an Ayurvedic supplement) can have two side effects - one being gastrointestinal irritation, the other being boosting the immune system, potentially triggering allergies… I’d already stopped taking it, but could now FINALLY blame my near-death experience AND the fact that my chronic skin rashes had come back on SOMETHING which gave me much needed relief and peace of mind. I could start traveling again without feeling like I should probably not be too far away from a hospital and I could stop having mild panic attacks the day after eating beets :sweat_smile:

Fast forward 3 years later… I keep having Huel and keep having rashes that no dermatologist can explain (they just provide me with creams and stuff and say “sure, it could be a systemic food allergy but it’s like almost impossible to determine such an etiology so just put some steroid cream on it”) when finally I meet a woman at a bar who starts talking about her systemic allergy to nickel in food - and she mentions that she has all the same symptoms as me.

Lo and behold, I immediately start looking into what foods contain nickel, reduce my nickel intake, and ALL my symptoms completely disappear within a week.

During this, I discover that Huel (especially the chocolate flavored version that I have been having daily for years) has an OFF-THE-CHARTS nickel content (the top five ingredients (oats, pea protein, flaxseeds, brown rice and cocoa) are all top contenders of the ‘do not eat, ever’ list) and that nickel allergy also can cause all sorts of gastrointestinal complications.

My conclusion is that HUEL has likely been the culprit all along, most definitely for the skin rashes and likely even (in our out of conjunction with ashwaganda or something else) for the ‘obscure, occult internal bleeding’ that almost killed me.

Nickel allergy (in food) is, I’ve since found, quite a common condition. And a lot of people are sensitized to it without being outright allergic. However, it’s often misdiagnosed as it takes an elimination diet to verify, and because it’s mistakenly confused (even by dermatologists) with topical nickel allergy (allergy to touching objects with nickel in them). These two things are often not related and so just cause you wear cheap jewelry just fine, doesn’t mean you’re not sensitized to oral nickel consumption.

So… I’d like to just share this story so no one has to experience something similar and so that maybe Huel could consider making a low-nickel version one day, or placing a little note on their products, or at least somewhere online, regarding this. Statistically, although I might have been relatively severely affected, I doubt I’m the only person out there who has been nickel-sensitive/allergic while consuming Huel like a fiend without making a connection (after all, it took me 10 days in the hospital, 3 years of rashes, a bit of a neurotic personality AND a random encounter with a fellow Danish stranger at a bar in New York to make any connection).

So, even though I believe in your product, and love it, I obviously wish I’d never had it, won’t ever have it again, and I sincerely wish that there had been a product warning on the label (particularly in the cocoa powder flavored one) that stated: “Extremely high nickel content - may cause severe allergic symptoms in sensitized people”, or at least an “allergies and sensitivities” summary on your website. This would have helped me (and could potentially help others) a great deal!


Hi Jonas

Thanks for the detailed post and sorry to hear that you’ve been experiencing these symptoms.

To make sure I understand as fully as possible, I have a few questions:

  1. Have you had the rashes for as long as you’ve been having Huel in your diet and have they completely cleared up now you’ve stopped?
  2. Are the rashes raised? Red?
  3. Is the reason you feel that nickel is the culprit, because of conversations you’ve had with others as well as you feel Huel is high in nickel and that stopping Huel has caused your symptoms to heal?
  4. When you say that you’ve discovered that Huel has an off-the-charts nickel content, approx what level have you found it to be and what is the comparison value that you’d consider normal in foods?
  5. Which type(s) of Huel are you having (regular Powder), Black Edition, RTD, etc)?
  6. Approx how much were you having each day?

I’ve not come across this before, so I plan to dig deeper but need more info first.



Hi James,

Thanks for getting back to me and for taking this seriously ! I do believe it’s something worth being aware of, which is why I posted it. Below are my answers to your questions :blush:

  1. I started with Huel in January of 2019, but only a rare one every once in a while. When I moved to New York in May 2019 (life is busier, food is more expensive) I started having 1-2 per day. About 6 weeks in, my rashes started coming back. In August I was hospitalized. The rashes on my legs, back and arms are completely cleared up now that I’ve stopped, yes.
  2. Yes, the rashes are red, raised and itchy and turn into scabs. This is normal with nickel allergy and is called atopic dermatitis.
  3. I was diagnosed with nickel allergy when I was about 7 years old, by doctors at the allergy department at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen. I had the exact same rashes then, but in different places from now. My parents were told to put me on a low-nickel diet and that I could then reintroduce nickel rich foods again gradually. For 20 years, I had no symptoms, even as young adult when I became vegetarian and ate müsli (nuts, seeds and oats are very high nickel) every morning, tons of peanuts and plant-based proteins at most meals (soy, legumes, nuts, beans and lentils are all high in nickel) etc. So I thought my allergy had gone away. It didn’t reappear until I started drinking 1-2 huels every day 20 years later and I never made the link… Except once, in passing, I mentioned my old nickel allergy to a dermatologist who asked if I was allergic to nickel in jewellery. When I said no, he brushed it off and said I couldn’t possibly be allergic to nickel then. But he was wrong. A few weeks ago, I randomly met a Danish woman at a bar and I mentioned my rash as part of some joke… and she started talking about her nickel allergy (only triggered through oral consumption). It all clicked then, and I started going through my diet and quickly realized Huel was like… BAAAD
  4. I’m obviously not walking around with an advanced chemistry set measuring nickel in everything. But every source mentions that cocoa powder has an extremely high nickel content, and that so does oats, flaxseeds, peas and brown rice. These are all on the top of every “avoid” list I’ve found online. My chocolate Huel powder is made up almost solely of concentrated, dehydrated forms of these ingredients… probably heavily processed in machinery containing nickel… Then I’ve mixed it with lots of tap water which can sometimes have a remarkable nickel content. I couldn’t say exactly but from what I read normal average nickel intake is somewhere between 60 and 150 ug/day. I should probably be fine around the low end of that - others are more sensitive. But I do believe a single 2 scoop huel shake probably contains at least 200 ug by itself. If you have the means to test this, I think it might be worth it.
  5. Regular Huel powder with chocolate flavor.
  6. 2-3 scoops per day on average. (1 or 2 small shakes)
    I hope that was useful to you! And thanks for making Huel (even though it messed me up!) - I really think it’s great! :metal::blush:


If it’s helpful…
The amount below is more than the 150ug you’ve mentioned, but certainly less than 200ug for 2 scoops!
I think it’s for an old formulation of huel, but I doubt it’s changed that drastically.

Hi Mike,

That is great to know - thank you!

Okay, so 37.5 ug/scoop, 73 ug/shake, or 375.5 ug/day if only consuming Huel… Including the water, an all Huel diet would then contain over 4 times the average daily nickel consumption for adults.

But I think it’s the chocolate flavor that really got me. Cocoa powder is roughly 9.8 ug/g so with 5.5% cocoa powder in the shake I’ve been having that’s roughly 25 ug extra per scoop which makes the above numbers: 62.5/scoop, 125 ug/shake or 625 ug/day if only consuming Huel. That’s wild, and should explain my problems.

But who knows, maybe an occasional vanilla shake a few times a week could work for me at some point down the line! :pray:


Thanks for the detailed background, @Uistot and thanks @MikeMcginty for digging out that post.

I have found a more recent test for Nickel in Huel that’s 48.7mcg per serving, but this was vanilla. I have requested a test for Nickel from chocolate flavours of regular Powder, Black Edition, Complete Protein and RTD - these can take 3 weeks or so, so I’ll update when they come in.

Results of nickel testing are in - all chocolate flavours:
v3.0 Powder - 156mcg per 2-scoop serving
Black Edition - 127mcg per 2-scoop serving
Complete Protein - 44mcg per 1 scoop serving
RTD - 118mcg per bottle

Hope this helps


To be fair, @Uistot was pretty bang on with the estimates!

Hi guys,

Thanks for the updates here. It seems that unfortunately, I did indeed pick the very worst of your product line for people sensitive to Nickel.

I’ve started gradually eating everything again - except my chocolate Huel - and my rashes and stuff are still completely gone everywhere. I really wish I’d known this earlier and so I’d strongly suggest just adding a little something to your packaging like “not suitable for people sensitive to nickel” or “may contain high amounts of the following allergens: nickel”, or just readings of nutritional values for non-essential trace minerals. If I’d read anything mentioning nickel on the back of the packaging at some point over the years it would have rung alarm bells and have saved me A LOT of troubles - and I really don’t think my allergy is that uncommon, it’s just often not diagnosed properly.

Anyway, I’m glad I figured this out and that you could help me confirm the thesis.

On a final note:

Right before the Nickel/Huel correlation occurred to me, I’d just received a HUGE BOX full of Chocolate V3. :sweat_smile: I have 7 unopened packages left that have been stored in a cool dry place, still in the box. I was wondering if I might be able to swap these in for some Complete Protein, VANILLA powder - that seems to be the best option for me going forwards if I am still to be somewhat of a “Hueler”! :sunglasses: Please let me know if that might be possible?


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I’m so relieved to see this post as I thought it was just me having this issue. I started on huel complete protein and never had a problem with my skin while I used it. I only ever use 1 scoop a day but the last month I switched to huel black (again just one scoop a day in water) to try some other flavours and noticed I’m increasingly getting raised bumps on my arms and shoulders.

Thank you for posting this I love huel but it looks like I need to switch back to the complete protein blends

@Neonuts While it could be due to Huel Black Edition, we would also suggest it’s important going to your drs to test for any potential allergies or intolerances to see if anything else is attributing to the raised bumps you’ve been getting.