We wouldn’t last long without an immune system, but sometimes this helpful ally can turn on us and mistakenly attack joints, muscles and even organs, explains Ronen Marmur, M.D., a rheumatologist at Northern Westchester Hospital.
There are more than 80 different types of autoimmune disorders, affecting 5 to 8 percent of Americans, according the National Institutes of Health, Unfairly, about 80 percent of them are female; women of African American, Native American and Hispanic descent have the highest risk.
What can you do to avoid trouble? According to Amy Myers, M.D. author of The Autoimmune Solution, nutrients like omega-3 fats, selenium, the B vitamins, vitamin D and zinc can help. They’re key to a measured immune response and can offset collateral damage from an overactive defense mechanism. A multivitamin may make sense, but talk to your doctor about focusing on one more of these nutrients, depending on your diet and where you live.