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12 Easy Ways to Soak Up Vitamin D     First Posted: 07/09/11 02:42 AM ET   Updated: 09/07/11 06:12 AM ET

Vitamin D is essential for bone health. Recent research suggests it may have other benefits, too, such as protecting against colds and fighting depression.

The good news is that most people get enough Vitamin D, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

However, if you don't spend enough time in the sun or if your body has trouble absorbing the vitamin, you may not get enough. Here are 12 ways to ensure adequate intake.

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Sunlight spurs the body to make Vitamin D. But because of the skin-cancer risk, there isn't an official recommendation to catch some rays. However, a small amount of sun exposure without sunscreen can do the trick.

"If you're going to get it from the sun, about 20 to 25 minutes of exposure is helpful," says Stephen Honig, M.D., director of the Osteoporosis Center at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, in New York City.

The sun is less likely to provide your daily needs at higher latitudes, in the winter, or if you're older or dark skinned (skin pigment blocks light and the process is less efficient with age). And FYI: Light through a window won't work.

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Filed by Emma Gray  |