Energy and vitamin drinks in Japan

Japan has a longstanding relationship with energy drinks. In fact, some of the first energy and vitamin drinks in Japan were created in the 1960’s by a pharmaceutical company. Now, when many of us think of a typical “energy drink”, we probably imagine popular brands like RedBull and Monster drinks in their eccentrically designed cans. However, in Japan energy drinks are not necessarily marketed in the same manner. Many, like the first energy drink created by Taisho Pharmaceuticals called Lipovitan D, come in small 100ml brown glass vials with screw tops for easy consumption in a couple of gulps, almost all at an affordable price for anyone. In Japanese, energy drinks are usually called “eiyou-dorinku” or “eiyou-dorinku-zai­” which roughly translates to “nutritional drinks”.  They were originally created to aid the famous Japanese salarymen when they needed their boost during their hectic work hours. While some of these drinks contain Chinese herbs and medicines, the nutritional contents generally don’t stray too far from popular energy drinks like RedBull, mainly containing water-soluble caffeine, vitamins (primarily B-series), taurine, and niacin. Many Japanese traditionally consume these drinks for the nutritional value in comparison to the Westerners’ search for a quick energy boost. Overall the Japanese nutritional drinks are said to be not only for an energy boost, but also for recovering appetite loss, improving a weakened immune system, fatigue, replenishing vitamins and minerals, and providing additional nutrients during pregnancy and nursing. Of course, there are warnings for how much one should consume of these products per day (usually just 1 or 2 bottles) and the smaller portion size allows for easier intake control. Recently, the “pick-me-up drinks” from overseas have sparked a new trend with a number of Japanese manufacturers also entering the market with unique flavors and designs. That’s why when you shop at Japanese drug stores, convenience stores, and supermarkets; you find a whole array of Japanese energy and nutritional drinks stocking several shelves from top to bottom. Many are targeting different customer segments such as men, women younger and older consumers. Here is a list of the current top five popular energy drinks among men and women in Japan: Men:
  • Alinamin V – quick energy boost
  • Yunker Star – relieve extreme fatigue with 18 different kinds of herbs & minerals
  • Alinamin 7 – relieve daily fatigue with a fruity flavor
  • Alinamin V & V New – double the vitamins in Alinamin V
  • S-Cup DXa – replenish energy with double the replenishing vitamins of S-Cup
Women:
  • Alinamin V – quick energy boost.
  • Spark Yunker – relieves fatigue and is popular with young-consumers and women with a fresh refreshing taste.
  • Alinamin R – recommended before sleeping or after work to refresh your body in mornings (no caffeine).
  • S-Cup B plus Bee – with lower calories it helps revitalize an overworked body. Made for women – contains royal jelly and other essential vitamins & minerals necessary with apple flavor.
  • S-Cup E – Rejuvenates body back to normal conditions when feeling particularly weak, improves body circulation, and aids in preventing the body from giving into daily stress.
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