Difference Between Vitamin K and Potassium

Vitamin K vs Potassium

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which is a derivative of 2-methilo-naphthoquinone. There are three common forms of vitamin K, K1, K2 and K3. K1 (phytonadione, phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinones) can be synthesized by natural bacterial flora of the intestines. Phylloquinone is of plant origin and the predominant form in diet. Vitamin K2 occurs in chicken egg yolk, butter, cow liver etc. Vitamin K is not stored by the body much. Small amounts get deposited in the liver and in the bones to cover needs for a few days. The vitamin is needed for blood coagulation.

Potassium is a mineral needed for proper maintenance of cardiac tissues. It is a primary electrolyte and its ability to exist as ions is especially important in nerve conduction and ion dependant transport. This has to be supplied from diet and older people are at higher risk of deficiency related diseases.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is involved in the carboxylation of glutamate residues in proteins and form gamma-carboxyglutamate residues and hence needed for those proteins which need this function to be biologically active. Some of them include coagulation facotrs II (prothrombin), VII (proconvertin), IX (Christmas factor), X (Stuart factor), protein C, protein S and a growth-arrest-specific factor (Gas6). The primary known function of vitamin K is in the normal clotting of blood, but it is also helpful in normal bone calcification. Without Vitamin K, carboxylation is not possible and hence the proteins remain biologically inactive.

The vitamin is also needed for bone metabolism in carboxylation of osteocalcin. High serum concentrations of undercarboxylated osteocalcin and low serum concentrations of vitamin K are indicative of reduced bone mineral density. It also increases the risk of hip fracture. Vitamin K prevents calcification of arteries as well as other soft tissues which is a consequence of aging. It also has a role in maintenance of blood sugar level. The pancreas has the second highest amount of vitamin K in the body.

The deficiency is rare and can occur as a result of antibiotics, in newborns and due to impaired absorption.


Potassium is found in meat, some fish types, fruits and vegetables. The mineral has important roles in human body and its deficiency causes the condition called hypokalemia. Excess is also dangerous and results in hyperkalemia. Too much sodium in the diet can aggravate the deficiency of potassium.

Older people have a greater risk of deficiency related symptoms due to the impaired functioning of the kidneys and inability to excrete the mineral efficiently. Some medicines such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors and Non steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) also affect the level of potassium in the body. Low levels of potassium also increase the toxic effects of medicines such as digoxin.

Comparison of Vitamin K and Potassium

The major similarity among the two is the name. The abbreviation K stands for Potassium for those outside the medical field and vitamin K receives the same effect inside the medicine reports. A little misconception of the two and the patient may erroneously get the wrong treatment. This is particularly severe in cases where either has been misplaced. Intravenous vitamin K administration can result in unwanted consequences.

Apart from the letter ‘K’ there is no other similarity between the two. The vitamin K is a vitamin whereas potassium is a mineral. High doses of vitamin K are not so severe except in cases where the person is administered anticoagulants. High doses of potassium on the other hand can be lethal also causing low blood pressure, mental confusion and eventually heart attack. The drug is contraindicated for those with dehydration, heat cramps, ulcers, kidney disease or who are taking drugs which cause the kidney to retain potassium.


1. Vitamin K is an essential vitamin whereas Potassium is a macro mineral required by the body.

2. The abbreviation for both is K although vitamin K does not have any accepted acronym.

3. Higher doses should be avoided especially with Potassium.

4. Vitamin K is mainly involved in blood clotting whereas Potassium find many other physiological functions including nervous system functioning.