Energy drinks are a highly popular beverage option, with more than 30% of young adults and adolescents in America regularly consuming them for supporting perceived benefits such as improving athletic performance, reducing body fat and more. A report on the U.S. energy drinks market from Grand View Research estimated the energy drink market size in 2016 was US$14.3 billion. Most energy drinks contain caffeine as the primary active ingredient—the source of which may influence effectiveness and health outcomes.
Synthetic and natural caffeine
Caffeine has been used for thousands of years and is one of the most popular substances across human civilization. In 1025, a Persian physician mentioned coffee as a medication for the first time in a medical manuscript. People first cultivated coffee plants in Yemen and roasted green coffee beans in Turkey. Shortly after that, in the 15th century, coffee houses opened in Arabia, and the habit of caffeine was born.
The popularity of caffeine spread across the globe. Today caffeine continues to be a widely available, legal, socially accepted stimulant, noted an Institute of Medicine (IOM) military nutrition research book on performance-enhancing food components. It stated approximately 1.6 billion cups of coffee were consumed daily worldwide in 2015.
Caffeine intake proliferated through the development of energy drinks. One study mentioned that in the American adolescent population, energy drinks follow multivitamins in the top most popular supplements.
Naturally occurring in more than 60 plants, caffeine can be found in everything from food and beverages to pharmaceutical products. It is naturally found in kola nuts, guarana berries, coffee beans, cacao beans and tea leaves or can be created synthetically in a lab. While synthetic and naturally occurring caffeine are chemically similar, they are used differently in product formulations and can vary slightly in their effects on the human body.