As simple as it may seem, this question is the first step in examining the role of minerals in nutrition. The dictionary describes minerals as solid, crystalline substances (diamond, copper, quartz, etc.) not of animal or vegetable origin. The key words are "not of animal or vegetable origin" meaning they are inorganic elements. Because minerals intended for nutritional purposes cannot be synthesized by the body, they must be utilized as natural elements - they must be eaten and successfully absorbed.
In context, we are talking about nutritional minerals. Nutritional minerals are a small sub group of the above broad, general statement. Though nutritional mineral requirements differ between plants and animals, generally the nutritional minerals are regarded as: Boron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Sulfur, Potassium, Calcium, Vanadium, Chromium, Manganese, Iron, Cobalt, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Molybdenum and Iodine.