A mineral nutrient is an inorganic element, such as calcium, iron, potassium, sodium, or zinc, that is essential to the nutrition of humans, animals, and plants.
The root word for "mineral" is the word "mine".
Mineral Deficiencies in the Standard American Diet (SAD)
Minerals are found in the earth in various concentrations around the world. In some areas, the soil lacks some of the essential minerals in quantities needed for human health. Commercial farming practices often reduce the mineral content of the soil further. For example, plants are often grown in the same soil year after year, and not "rotated" with other crops, and artificial fertilizers with only a few minerals are used to replace the minerals in the soil. In many cases, commercial fertilizers only contain 3 minerals: potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. These minerals make the plants grow well and look good, but the plants do not contain the enough of the minerals needed for human health. Natural fertilizers used in traditional farming, such as compost and manure, contain a wider variety of minerals.
Plant-Derived vs. Minerals in Inorganic Soil
In order for the human body to absorb and utilize minerals as nutrients, the minerals much be in the right form. Minerals in the soil and minerals found in rocks are in a form which the body cannot absorb and use. So we can't get our essential minerals from eating dirt, or supplements derived from rock.
Plants absorb these minerals through their roots and convert them into plant-derived minerals. The minerals are bonded with other elements that make them chemically compatible with the human digestive system,
An example of an inorganic mineral that is not easily used by the body is calcium carbonate. An example of the calcium derived from plants is calcium citrate. Calcium citrate is very bio-available, meaning it is available to the cells in a form that can be used in metabolic processes.
The 60 Essential Minerals (Dr. Joel Wallach)
The following minerals, in plant-derived forms, are essential for optimum human health. The human body cannot produce it's own minerals from other substances. They must be consumed in the foods we eat, or in supplement form. A deficiency of any of these 60 essential minerals will limit the body's ability to produce healthy cells, or to produce certain enzymes, or to support various other chemical processes. Over time, these limitations will result in health problems. For example, a deficiency in calcium is associated with over 140 health problems.