Dear Heloise: I've decided to stop counting calories and look toward nutrition.

Here's my question: Since I take my VITAMINS faithfully every day, does it matter whether or not I eat the required amount of vegetables and fruit?

I'm not especially fond of either. — Derek T., Tipton, Ind.

Derek, YES, it matters! Eating fruits and vegetables provides you with things your vitamin pills don't. To begin with, a vitamin pill does not give you fiber. There are many components in foods that, as yet, cannot be packaged in a pill form.

Eating an apple, for example, will provide substances such as "phytochemicals" that are advantageous to you. So, eat your fruits and vegetables, but try various recipes to wake up your taste buds.

— Heloise

Dear Heloise: I love my morning coffee, but my husband wants us to avoid caffeine completely. I don't think one or two cups a day is bad.

Is it? — Sandra P., Pine Ridge, S.D.

Sandra, caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.

It stimulates the central nervous system, making you feel awake. It's also a diuretic, which makes you urinate more, and it increases the release of acid in the stomach, which can raise blood pressure and may adversely affect the absorption of calcium.

If you are worried about your consumption of caffeine, check with your doctor about how much is too much for you.

— Heloise

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