How do Vitamin K and Potassium differ?
Despite the fact that potassium isn’t technically considered a vitamin, it’s still an essential part of our health and well-being.
In fact, there are several similarities between vitamin K and potassium that make them similar in some ways but different in others.
So how do these two differ?
Here’s what you need to know about potassium vs vitamin K to make informed decisions about your health going forward.
What is Vitamin K?
- Often referred to as vitamin K1, menaquinone is an important fat-soluble vitamin that has vital functions in a variety of bodily processes.
- It’s commonly known for its role in blood clotting, but that’s just one small facet of what it does in the body.
- For example, it also works to maintain bone strength and fight off free radicals.
- The three main kinds of vitamin K are phylloquinone (vitamin K1), menaquinone (vitamin K2), and synthetic versions of these two natural forms.
- Both function in similar ways, but each also differs slightly from another because of how it is absorbed by the body.
What is Potassium?
- Potassium is an essential mineral that’s necessary for the proper functioning of all living cells. The human body needs it to maintain a healthy heart, brain, muscles, kidneys, and more.
- It plays an important role in enzyme reactions in every cell of your body.
- More than 98 percent of your body’s potassium is found inside cells rather than outside them. Most fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), meats, and fish contain high amounts of potassium.
- However, most people don’t get enough because their dietary intake is often too low to meet their recommended daily value requirement.
Why Are They Important?
- An adequate intake of both vitamin K and potassium is vital to good health. A deficiency in either one can lead to serious medical problems.
- When it comes to vitamins, there are a handful of micronutrients we need every day for basic functioning. These include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and others like choline or magnesium.
- In general, if you’re eating a healthy diet with a wide variety of foods that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in phytonutrients (plant nutrients), you should have no problem getting enough vitamins from food alone.
- That said, vitamins aren’t regulated by any agency such as the FDA which means they don't have to be proven safe before they hit store shelves.
- So although vitamin supplements can help fill any gaps in your diet, remember not all supplements contain what they say they do.
- And always talk to your doctor before taking any kind of supplement vitamin or otherwise.
- That's why it's important to get into good habits early on so you never run into problems later down the road.
- With minerals such as potassium and phosphorus foods only provide small amounts of them; thus, an overall mineral-deficient diet could pose some health risks if left untreated for long periods of time like hypokalemia or rickets.
Are Vitamin K and Potassium the Same Thing?
- No. While these two nutrients have a few things in common, there are some major differences. Specifically, potassium is an essential mineral that helps regulate body fluids and maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
- While it’s a bit more complicated, vitamin K helps our bodies synthesize calcium for bone formation.
- Since their roles are very different, it’s not likely you’ll be deficient in one if you have enough of another though deficiencies in both can lead to some serious health issues.
- Many people worry about which nutrient they should focus on getting more of, but as long as you eat plenty of foods with either or both vitamin K and potassium every day, you should be good.
- In fact, just eating a balanced diet will help ensure your nutritional needs are met.
- If your doctor has recommended taking certain supplements to correct an imbalance or treat a specific condition, however, definitely follow her advice!
- You don’t want to do any damage by taking too much of either nutrient or by neglecting other important vitamins and minerals.
What Makes Them Different?
You might be surprised to learn that vitamin K and potassium share a lot of similarities.
For example, both are vital for bone health. According to a review published in 2011, vitamin K is needed for calcium absorption and bone mineralization.
This means it helps build strong bones, which prevents osteoporosis the weakening of bones over time, and fractures.
Potassium has been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by keeping blood vessels healthy.
It also reduces risks associated with kidney disease (think chronic kidney disease), type 2 diabetes, cancer (specifically colorectal cancer), obesity, high cholesterol, stroke, gallstones, and gout.
Do You Need Both for Optimal Health?
- The short answer is no, you don’t need either one for optimal health. There are plenty of foods with potassium but little or no vitamin K, and vice versa.
- You can get all of your nutritional needs met without needing a steady supply of both nutrients in your diet.
- However, you may still want to consider supplementing because both nutrients can be helpful in certain cases.
- For example, people who have heart disease are at an increased risk of dying from a heart attack if they have low levels of potassium.
- A lack of vitamin K makes it more difficult for blood to clot properly; which leaves people more vulnerable to bleeding when injured. Both vitamins play important roles in helping us avoid these serious issues.
Tips for Getting Enough Vitamin K & Potassium In Your Diet
Both are available in fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. The best sources of potassium include white beans, yogurt or soy milk (if you’re lactose intolerant), potatoes with skin on, red leaf lettuce, and lima beans.
For vitamin K dark green leafy vegetables like kale or collard greens are good sources. Nuts like pistachios have lots of vitamin K too.
One cup of cooked spinach gives you 14 percent of your daily value for vitamin A while a cup of Brussels sprouts contains 140 percent.
Collard greens provide 112 percent per serving in addition to 487 percent daily value for vitamin C per serving! Sprouts, citrus fruits, and avocados also contain high amounts of vitamins that can help your body fight off colds and flu.
Food sources of vitamin K and potassium
- Both potassium and vitamin K are naturally occurring in a variety of foods, but some stand out more than others. For example, leafy greens like spinach (one cup contains 168 percent of your daily value) are high in both nutrients.
- Similarly, most fruits including kiwi, cantaloupe, oranges, bananas, avocado, and strawberries are good sources of vitamin K as well as potassium. In terms of vegetables specifically, sweet potatoes contain almost 400 percent of your daily value for both nutrients.
- Most tubers like potatoes aren’t that beneficial since they contain more starch than other nutrients. Beans and nuts also contain large amounts of vitamin K and potassium.
- However, it's important to point out again that while some nuts can be considered healthy, many people overdo nut consumption with negative health effects.
- The same goes for beans; while these fiber-rich legumes can be great additions to your diet if consumed in moderation, going overboard could cause gastrointestinal issues or an increased risk of kidney stones due to their oxalate content.
- Meat is another source of both nutrients but should be consumed only occasionally because it is higher in saturated fat content compared to plant-based foods.
Vitamin K benefits
It’s one of several vitamins essential to developing healthy bones. It also plays a role in normal blood clotting, protecting against artery hardening, and reducing inflammation.
A 2016 study published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that vitamin K could prevent cancer cells from growing by interrupting communication between cancer cells.
This study suggests that it can be used as a natural treatment for cancers such as breast cancer.
It helps maintain normal blood pressure, supports heart health, keeps bones strong, and maintains a healthy metabolism.
While all of these are important, potassium is most famous for helping to regulate your body’s fluid balance.
When your body holds onto too much water (called edema), you might feel swollen or puffy, like you’ve consumed extra sodium, or even experience shortness of breath or chest pain.
Excess water is not just uncomfortable; it can be dangerous if left untreated. Potassium can help reduce these symptoms because its high concentration of electrolytes acts as a natural diuretic.
In conclusion, vitamin K differs from potassium in a few key ways. First, vitamin K is a vitamin while potassium is a mineral.
Next, while both are important to our health and development, they don’t serve quite the same purpose in our bodies.