Barbara Quinn

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at (MCT)


Got several letters from readers this week. And a couple took issue with information in recent columns:

Regarding eggs, Claude W of Tampa, Fla., wrote: “Better check your facts on ‘brown eggs come from brown-colored chickens.’ I have raised poultry for some time. Some of my flock are White Cochin and they produce brown eggs.”

Dear Claude, I did indeed check my facts and according to the American Egg Board, “The breed of hen determines the color of the shell. Among commercial breeds, hens with white feathers and ear lobes lay white-shelled eggs; hens with red feathers and ear lobes lay brown eggs.”

So how does your White Cochin with white feathers lay brown eggs? According to “Henderson’s Chicken Breed Chart” from Ithaca College in New York, Cochins are “big balls of fluff and feathers” of a variety of colors (including white). But with red earlobes. So apparently these white hens with red earlobes lay brown eggs. Mystery solved.

Daniel Atkinson, professor emeritus in biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, writes in response to last week’s column: “You call silicon a trace mineral and say silica is a ‘form’ of it. Actually silicon is an element rather than a mineral and is a component of the mineral silica. That isn’t a particularly important error in a column such as yours.

“But the egregious error is your characterization of silicon as a trace material. Actually silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust (after oxygen), making up about one quarter of the mass of the crust. In fact it is more abundant by weight than all of the more than 100 other elements combined (excluding oxygen, of course). Hardly a trace!”

I stand corrected, Dr. Atkinson. Silicon is indeed a chemical “element” although sometimes referred to (incorrectly as you pointed out) as a “mineral.” And it is an ingredient in the mineral silica.

And while I appreciate the fact that silicon makes up a good portion of our earth’s crust, it is found in only “trace” amounts in the human body. In fact, while nutrition researchers have established that silicon may be important to bone and heart health, no current recommendation has yet been established for it as an essential nutrient.

Thanks for keeping me on my toes, dear readers!

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Email her at


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