Why would we need minerals that have to be mined or manufactured if we haven’t always had access to these processes?

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Does having access mean it just affects quality of life and/or life expectancy?

Did we change to need, or benefit from, these minerals?

Or were there always alternatives, but mining is more efficient?

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Do you mean biological need, like nutritionally? Yeah they’re found in our food.

All of the things we need to survive, from salt to iodine, are either found in water or food. While it can be cheaper to mine/produce them and add them to deficient foods, such as iodizing salt, the alternative is a naturally well-balanced diet. This is what kept us alive before industrial processes became a thing.

The old saying goes that if it can’t be grown it must be mined. Our earliest ancestors would have also been the first to mine probably looking for flint or obsidian for tools and some of these products would have also been some of the first to be traded and used in commerce. The Copper Age which preceded the Bronze Age started around 3500 BC and by it’s very name required mining. A quick google search tells me you can go back even further and find there was an active mine for coal in southern Africa going back 20,000-40,000 years. Mining minerals might go back further than you think.

Your body can function on limited minerals but poorly. More minerals means better everything.

There was no change. The minerals were always needed.

In times past with low populations there were enough river bottoms and flood plains to supply food. The soil can’t keep up with modern agriculture and high populations so we expend some energy to mine them.