Vitamin K and potassium are essential micronutrients the body needs to develop and function properly. The two share some things in common, but they’re not the same.
Each has a unique set of properties and purposes. Unlike vitamin K, potassium is not a vitamin. Rather, it’s a mineral.
On the periodic table, the chemical symbol for potassium is the letter K. Thus, people sometimes confuse potassium with vitamin K.
This article highlights some of the main similarities and differences between vitamin K and potassium.
Vitamin K and potassium are both considered essential nutrients.
Your body needs essential nutrients to complete basic tasks. The body cannot product potassium on its own and can only make small amounts of vitamin K. As a result, it’s important to consume these nutrients through food.
Though vitamin K and potassium are both important, they’re not the same type of compound.
|Chemical structure||quinone lipid||soft metal|
|Daily Value (DV)||120 mcg||4,700 mg|
|Forms||food, supplements, and small amounts produced in the gut||food, supplements, and in some foods as an additive|
|Bioavailability||vitamin K2 may be more bioavailable than K1||still unclear which forms the body absorbs best|
|Uses||blood clotting and bone metabolism||an electrolyte that helps cells complete basic functions|
|Benefits||may support bone and heart health and prevent infant bleeding||may support bone health and benefit blood pressure|
Vitamin K overview
Healthcare providers often give vitamin K1 supplements to infants just after birth to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB).
VKDB is a condition that occurs when there’s not enough vitamin K in the body to help form blood clots (
Vitamin K1 — also known as phylloquinone — is the type usually found in leafy green vegetables. It’s also the most common type of vitamin K in the human diet (5).
Vitamin K2 is a group of compounds known as menaquinones. They’re often present in animal products and fermented foods.
Gut bacteria also produce small amounts of menaquinones (5).
Potassium is a mineral that functions as an electrolyte within the human body.
Virtually every cell and tissue in the human body needs electrolytes to complete basic functions.
Potassium helps maintain (
- water balance
- blood pH
- blood pressure
- muscle movement
- communication between neurons
- regular heartbeat
Unlike vitamin K, potassium is not a vitamin — it’s a mineral. To keep the body working properly, consume both nutrients in foods or supplements.
Regularly consuming foods that are rich sources of vitamin K and potassium can contribute to an overall healthy diet.
These micronutrients each have benefits of their own, and they may even share a few similar benefits.
Here’s a closer look.
Vitamin K benefits
Vitamin K plays a significant role in bone growth and metabolism.
However, scientists still need to do more rigorous research to fully understand the relationship between supplements and bone health (
However, researchers need to do more studies to fully understand the relationship between vitamin K and heart health.
Again, scientists need to do more high quality research to investigate these potential effects.
Potassium may play a role in bone health.
Like vitamin K, potassium may help bone health in postmenopausal women. A recent study found potassium may have more pronounced effects on bone health and osteoporosis risk in that population (
Potassium’s capacity to help regulate blood pressure appears to have significant impacts on heart health (
Vitamin K and potassium both help with basic bodily functions. Adequate intake of these nutrients may benefit bone and heart health.
Vitamin K and potassium are generally considered safe for most people. There’s not enough evidence to show that consuming too much of either could have toxic side effects (
However, people taking certain medications and those with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may need to closely monitor the amount of vitamin K and potassium they’re consuming.
Otherwise, blood levels of these nutrients that are too low or too high could have dangerous side effects.
Vitamin K concerns
Because vitamin K encourages blood clotting, people taking blood thinning medications must pay close attention to how much vitamin K they’re consuming.
This will help prevent vitamin K from interfering with the intended effects of the medication (
Thus, people with CKD may need to closely monitor their blood potassium levels and adjust their intake of potassium-rich foods and supplements accordingly.
People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) or those who are taking certain medications, including blood thinners, may need to pay close attention to their vitamin K and potassium blood levels.
- leafy green vegetables
- fermented soybeans
- roasted chicken
- dairy products
- lean meat
Many foods contain vitamin K and potassium. Leafy green vegetables and fermented soybeans are rich in vitamin K, while fruits and vegetables are often great sources of potassium.
The body needs the micronutrient’s vitamin K and potassium to continue working properly.
Although people sometimes confuse them with one another, the two aren’t the same. Potassium is a mineral and not a vitamin, and the two nutrients function differently in the human body.
Still, they both contribute to better bone and heart health, among other benefits.
Consuming foods rich is vitamin K and potassium is an important part of a healthy diet.