Most of the minerals we need are the same ones plants require for their own growth. We both need: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, iron, boron, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum and chlorine.
Plants don’t store minerals for our benefit — they use them for their own life cycles. If any of their 16 essential elements is not available, the plant withers and dies. If you buy a tomato or a red bell pepper, you know that the plant grew successfully and had all of the minerals it needed. When you eat a wide variety of foods from plants, and animals who eat plants, you will get plenty of these minerals.
The minerals we need that plants don’t need are sodium, iodine, fluoride, selenium and cobalt. They may be in plants, but the plants do not die if they are not available. Most people get plenty of these minerals because our diet is abundant in salt, our water is fluoridated, and we eat foods grown in many different locations. Plants grown far from the oceans lack iodine, and a person who ate only those plants would have goiter, but this condition is no longer seen in North America because we use iodized salt and eat foods from all parts of the continent.
If you eat a moderately varied diet that includes plenty of plants, you should get all the minerals you need and your body regulates them efficiently. Strict vegetarians should check the amount of calcium in the foods they eat, and may wish to take supplements or foods fortified with calcium.