Medically reviewed by Lisa Hodgson, RDN, CDN, CDCES, FADCES — Written by Jessica Booth on January 27, 2021

Despite the fact that the symbol for potassium is K on the periodic table, vitamin K is not potassium.

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The two are very similar micronutrients, and the body needs both to function properly, but vitamin K and potassium are not actually the same. They each have their own properties and functions that make them unique.


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Vitamin K and potassium are both considered essential nutrients, but they’re not the same type of compound. Let’s go through their differences.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins necessary for the body to produce proteins for functions such as blood clotting and bone production.

The most common types of vitamin K are K1 and K2. K1, also known as phylloquinone, is usually found in leafy green vegetables and is the most common type of vitamin K in the human diet.

Vitamin K2 is a group of compounds called menaquinones. They’re usually found in animal products and fermented foods. Small amounts of them can also be found in gut bacteria.

The recommended daily value of vitamin K is 120 micrograms for adults, and you can mostly get it from food, although some people take vitamin K supplements.

Doctors typically give vitamin K1 supplements to infants just after birth to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which happens when there’s not enough vitamin K in the body to help form blood clots.

Potassium

Potassium isn’t a vitamin at all: it’s a mineral that functions as an electrolyte within the body. Pretty much every cell and tissue in the human body requires electrolytes to function normally.

Potassium has a lot of important functions and helps maintain:

water balanceblood pHblood pressuremuscle movementcommunication between neuronsregular heartbeat

It’s essential to keep blood potassium levels within the normal limits in order to maintain good health. The recommended daily value is 4,700 micrograms, and it can be consumed through food or supplements.


Regularly eating foods rich in vitamin K and potassium can contribute to an overall healthier diet.

While these micronutrients each have their own unique benefits, they share some as well. For example, scientists have studied both for their potential effects on bone and heart health.

Here’s why you need each.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K has an important role in bone growth and metabolism. Vitamin K deficiencies have been linked with bone injuries such as fractures and bone diseases like osteoporosis.

Furthermore, early research has shown that vitamin K supplements have the potential to help reduce fracture rates.

Benefits like these could be helpful for postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. However, more research is needed before scientists can fully understand the relationship between supplements and bone health.

Vitamin K might help inhibit the accumulation of calcium in the blood vessels, something that often comes before heart disease. Getting enough of it may prevent calcium buildup and boost heart health. Again, though, more research is needed on the relationship between vitamin K and heart health.

Research also shows that other nutrients, like vitamin D, might influence the effectiveness of vitamin K supplements for heart health.

New research shows that vitamin K might help prevent age– and inflammation-related conditions such as diabetes and cancer, but more research is needed on that subject.

Vitamin K has also been linked to bone health, cognitive health, and control of infant bleeding.

Note: If you take warfarin, check with your doctor before taking vitamin K supplements.

Potassium

Potassium might also play an important role in bone health, although more research is needed to see how potassium supplements improve it.

Similarly to vitamin K, potassium might help bone health in postmenopausal women, having a significant effect on osteoporosis risk.

Potassium can also help regulate blood pressure, which can have a significant impact on heart health. A diet rich in potassium might help reduce blood pressure by helping the body remove excess sodium. Studies have also shown that a potassium-rich diet may help prevent strokes.

Since potassium citrate can help lower calcium levels in urine, and calcium is a common mineral in kidney stones, potassium may also help prevent kidney stones.

Studies also suggest that a high potassium diet can help reduce water retention by increasing urine production and reducing sodium levels.


The best way to get vitamin K and potassium is through food sources. Here’s where you can find these nutrients:

Vitamin K

leafy green vegetables (especially collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, and kale)broccolilegumes (especially soybeans and edamame) pumpkinokrafruit (especially blueberries, grapes, and figs)nuts (such as pine nuts and cashews)cheeses (such as cheddar and mozzarella)carrotsground beefchicken liverhameggs

Potassium

fruits (especially apricots, prunes, squash, bananas, apples, oranges, tomatoes, and cantaloupe)potatoeskidney beanslegumes such as lentils and soybeansspinachchicken breastsalmondairy products such as milk and yogurtturkey breasttunaasparagus

Vitamin K and potassium are both essential to a healthy body and share some similar functions, but they’re not the same thing.

Vitamin K is a group of vitamins that can help prevent blood clotting and bone production.

Potassium is a mineral that functions as an electrolyte in the body. It helps maintain water retention, blood pressure, and muscle movement, among other things.

Vitamin K may be important for bone health and heart health, and may help prevent age- and inflammation-related conditions.

Potassium may also impact bone health, and could also help regulate blood pressure, reduce the risk of strokes, prevent kidney stones, and reduce water retention.

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Both are found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy, and meats, and the best way to get them is through natural food sources instead of supplements (speak to a doctor if you’re considering taking a supplement).