Are Vitamin K And Potassium The Same Thing?

It can be really difficult to keep all the different nutrients our body needs straight. Two of the easiest to confuse are vitamin K and potassium. That's because potassium's symbol on the periodic table of elements is a "K," leading many to believe it's the same as vitamin K, according to Healthline. However, the truth couldn't be more different.

As its name suggests, vitamin K is a vitamin while potassium is a mineral. Both are integral parts of a healthy body that we intake primarily through food.

Vitamin K is used by our circulatory system to help blood clot, according to WebMD. It's actually composed of several different kinds of elements, the most common of which are vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. We get vitamin K1 from leafy greens and vegetables, while K2 is found in meats, cheese, and eggs.

It's normal for newborn infants to have a vitamin K deficiency, for which a single shot is given. In adults, vitamin K deficiency is rare, although it does happen. People who drink heavily, have digestive diseases like Crohn's or celiac disease, are malnourished, or who take medications preventing vitamin K absorption are at higher risk.

Benefits of potassium

By comparison, potassium acts as an electrolyte in the body and is responsible for regulating fluid in the cells, according to the National Institutes of Health. It helps provide smooth muscle movement and regulates the heartbeat, stabilizes blood pressure and pH, and promotes healthy neural links.

Your mother may have told you to eat bananas for their high potassium content, but there are actually many foods that deliver this important mineral to our bodies. Apricots, raisins, potatoes, milk, meats, yogurt, nuts, and more all contain potassium. One apricot provides more than 20 percent of the daily recommended allowance of 2,600 milligrams for women and 3,400 mg for men. Americans get most of their daily potassium intake from milk, coffee, tea, and potatoes.

Studies have shown that most adults get less potassium than recommended, so many people take a supplement. These are not considered a good option, however, because most supplements only provide an average of 87 mg of potassium.

People with inflammatory bowel diseases, who use diuretics and laxatives, or who have pica should be monitored for potassium levels. Levels that are too low can lead to hypertension or stroke, kidney stones, poor bone health, or type-2 diabetes. If needed, doctor-directed supplementation can be prescribed (via Harvard Health Publishing).