This is a followup to my post, 6 Best Japanese Drinks For Pregnant And Nursing Women, and this time around I’m introducing 10 Japanese drinks rich in iron.
I’m anemic (貧血 | hinketsu) and had super low blood-iron levels throughout my pregnancy. My levels were so low that I had to take prescription iron supplements, and even then my blood-iron levels barely reached the acceptable level for pregnant women in Japan. If you’re anemic, pregnant, or want to make sure your children get their daily recommend intake of iron, read one!
Though I’m not pregnant anymore, I’m still anemic, and I am always trying new and interesting iron drinks and supplements and snacks that catch my attention. I will update this list periodically to document new finds so please bookmark (and share) as a reference page!
Iron Intake Levels In Japan For Men, Women, and Children
In Japan, the daily recommended iron intake is 7.0-7.5 mg for adult men and 10.5 mg for adult women. Pregnant women in the first trimester and nursing women should get an extra 2.5 mg daily, while women in their second and third trimesters should take an extra 15 mg of iron. All data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (link to PDF in Japanese) and from Fronteo Health Care (link in Japanese).
Infant boys and girls 0-5 months old need .5 mg of iron daily, and infants aged 6 to 11 need 3.5 mg of iron daily. The daily intake for toddlers 1-2 is 3 mg, increasing to 4 mg for children of kindergarten age (3-5 years old). All data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (link to PDF in Japanese).
10 Japanese Drinks Rich In Iron
The following selection of Japanese drinks rich in iron are drinks that nearly always make their way to my shopping basket. Most of them are readily available throughout the year at drugstores, supermarkets, and convenience stores across Japan. For tips on finding what you need at the convenience store, please check out this post. I’ve also added Amazon Japan links (except for the Yakult drink) so you can shop in bulk from the comfort of your home.
TIP: When searching for iron-fortified drinks, look for “Fe,” 鉄 (tetsu), or 鉄分 (tetsubun) on the label!
1. Yakult Joia
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Joie is a yogurt drink made by Yakult. It’s spelled “Joie” but pronounced “JO A.” The slightly tangy muscat flavor goes down well and is not as sweet as other Joia flavors (I’m looking at you, blueberry). My girl and I used to drink this one practically every morning on our way to school! It contains enough iron and folic acid to help you meet your daily recommended intake. You can set up delivery through your home via the Yakult website or find it in larger supermarkets, and occasionally at drugstores and even in vending machines. (Which is why we always drank it on the way to school!)
2. Tropicana Essentials Mango Blend
A wonderfully sweet mango fruit juice that works well when blended as a smoothie! I like the resealable container so I can put in my bag or stroller command center without worrying about it spilling all over the place. It contains 3.9 mg of iron to help you reach the recommended daily intake. You can easily find this drink at the kombini, drugstore supermarket, or on Amazon Japan.
3. MEGMILK SNOW BRAND Ichi Nichi Bun no Tetsubun Nomu Yogurt
Another one of my favorites, this has 6.8 mg of iron, as well as 1120 μg of folic acid and 1.2μg of B12. I see this one in convenience stores all the time, so be on the lookout for the purple box with prunes in the bottom right corner. This one is also available in supermarkets, drugstores and on Amazon Japan.
4. Kagome Yasai Ichinichi Kore Ippon Choi Noushuku Tetsubun
Generally I love Kagome fruit and veggie drinks, but this ultra concentrated blend of 350g of veggies was a chore to drink. Still, I bought it in bulk from Rakuten throughout my pregnancy. It has anywhere from 1.8 to 25 mg of iron, based on the availability of veggies used. You might be able to find in the supermarket, but for bulk quantities there’s always Amazon Japan.
5. Ito En Eiyou Kyoukakei Ichinichi Bun No Yasai
Much milder (and easier to drink!) than the super rich concentrated blend from Kagome, this blend of 100% vegetable juice has 1.5 mg of iron. also helps you reach the daily recommended intake of veggies*, too! (*Recommended daily intake of vegetables in Japan is 350 g.) You can find this one at the kombini, drugstore, supermarket, or on Amazon Japan.
6. Chocola BB Fe Charge
Chocola BB is one of those drink series that you find in little glass bottles in the kombini and drugstores. You know, along with the hangover cures and “stay awake” drinks. It’s packed with vitamin B2, which helps in preventing mouth ulcers, rough skin, and acne. I get ulcers from stress like crazy and sadly get no relief from Chocola BB drinks or tablets. BUT, the Fe Charge version has 4 mg of iron. It’s also prune flavored, making it easier to drink than most of those glass bottle supplement drinks. Check out the convenience store, drugstore or get it on Amazon Japan.
7. Alfe NEO
Another supplement drink sold in a tiny glass bottle is Alfe, a series from Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. The NEO version tastes like green apple and contains 4.5 mg of iron. It also contains royal jelly, vitamins B1, B2, and B6, magnesium, and calcium. Find it at the drugstore, convenience store, or on Amazon Japan.
8. Plussy1000 Oishii Tetsubun
Once sold as Plussy1000 Fe Orange (Feオレンジ) this orange flavored vitamin drink contains 1.6 mg of iron, 1000 mg of vitamin C, as well as vitamin B6. I like to use it as an afternoon pickup since it’s carbonated. You can find this in drugstores, the kombini and on Amazon Japan.
9. TBC Beauty Iron + Folic Acid + Vitamin B12
TBC Beauty 鉄分 + 葉酸 + ビタミンB12
You might be familiar with TBC. They provide facials, body rejuvenation, and body hair removal at hundreds of salons across Japan. They have their own line of skincare products and a lineup of drinks as well. This particular drink is blend of peach and prune flavors (tastes more like peach TBH) and has 7.4 mg of iron. After Joie, this is probably my favorite iron fortified drink, but I can only seem to find it in Lawson 100 stores… It’s also sold on Amazon Japan
10. Ohayo Kyou no Tetsubun Yousan Nomu Yo-guruto
This is a very mild and pleasant yogurt drink fortified with both iron and Folic acid. It has 10.5mg of iron and 240μg of folic acid, so you can meet your daily nutritional intake with just one drink! You can find this one at drugstores, convenience stores, supermarkets and on Amazon Japan.
Bonus: . inJelly Multimineral Grape
inゼリー マルチミネラル グレープ味
Not sure if these pouch drinks fully classify as “drinks.” But since they’re sold as a popular way for people in Japan to get their minerals and vitamins on the go, I’m adding this jelly pouch to the list. Unusual for a iron-fortified drink, this one is grape-flavored, rather than the standard prune flavor. This one is really good for when you’re feeling nauseous/not hungry but know you need to get some kind of nutrients in your body. You can find it at convenience stores, drugstores, and on Amazon Japan.