Are Potassium & Vitamin K the Same?

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Potassium and vitamin K are significantly different nutrients that perform different functions in your body. They are not found in similar foods, but it is important that you maintain a healthy balance of each nutrient. The letter K represents potassium on the periodic table of elements, potentially leading to confusion between these two nutrients.

Potassium Function

Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte, meaning that it helps your body conduct electricity. It also functions along with sodium to help your body maintain water balance. Raising your potassium intake may help reduce your risk for high blood pressure because you will excrete more sodium as your potassium increases. Potassium may also decrease your risk for stroke, increase bone density and reduce your risk for kidney stones, notes the Linus Pauling Institute.

Vitamin K Function

Vitamin K is a nutrient your body stores in fatty tissue and the liver. Its primary function in your body is to maintain blood coagulation. By activating certain proteins in your blood, vitamin K helps blood clot more easily. Growing research also indicates that vitamin K may increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Potassium Sources

Potassium is in many fruits and vegetables. Bananas, potatoes, plums and raisins all pack significant amounts of potassium to meet your daily needs. Multivitamins that contain potassium in the U.S. do not have more than 99 mg of the mineral, so if you need a higher supplemental amount, discuss it with your doctor. Non-pregnant women, men and children over the age of 14 need around 4,700 mg per day.

Vitamin K Sources

You do not require a significant amount of vitamin K in your diet to stay healthy. This is partially because bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract produce vitamin K, and partially because your daily needs for it are fairly low in comparison to potassium. The average man over 18 years of age only needs 120 mcg per day, while a woman needs 90 mcg. As an example of the ease for most people to obtain vitamin K through dietary sources, 1 cup of kale contains 547 mcg, 1 cup of Swiss chard has 299 mcg and 1 cup of broccoli has 220 mcg.