Energy drinks are big business. You shouldn't always believe what you read on labels and some energy drinks might even do you harm.

According to BevNet, a beverage industry trade website located in Boston, there are over 1,000 large and small distributors of energy drinks around the world. Without domination by either Coca-Cola or Pepsi, the lucrative top spot of the industry is open – currently being held by Austria-based Red Bull. Red Bull currently owns about 60% of the market share bringing in at least $150 million in annual revenue. Other popular energy drinks are Venom, Sprint, Adrenaline Rush, and Whoopass. These drinks are gaining popularity around the world and in every social setting – schools, gyms, and the workplace. But what are they?

Caffeine In Energy Drinks:

Energy drinks can consist of nearly 80 mg of caffeine, equal to a cup of coffee. Comparatively, Mountain Dew only has 37 mg of caffeine. The target market of these energy drinks is college students, individuals in their twenties, and body builders.

While energy drinks aren’t necessarily bad for you every once in a while – like anything, they become harmful in high doses. Energy drinks are basically cans of soda marked as being “designed to provide energy.” In a typical energy drink, you can find caffeine in the form of guarana, methylxanthines, B vitamins, herbal ingredients, inositol, carnitine, creatine, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, maltodextrine, and cartine. And while some energy drinks have artificially sweetened versions, don’t forget a major ingredient – high levels of sugar.

Some energy drink manufacturers make claims about their products ability to “improve performance and concentration.” Other companies make claims that the energy drink will help you “build muscle and mass” – be cautious of such claims, as they can be misleading. Also, bodybuilders should also be aware that there are no regulations or regulatory commissions guaranteeing the safety or validity of a product sold as a supplement. Supplements are not required to meet the same guidelines as prescription drugs are, for instance.

With energy drinks being equivalent to coffee, the question some are asking is – why the controversy over energy drinks and not a cup of Folders coffee? The experts say: age. It’s hard to recall the last time Folders or Maxwel House had a commercial with a couple of teens sipping coffee while they take a break from skateboarding at the park. Likewise, it would be difficult to find a commercial where Red Bull is being chugged by grandma on the front porch in her rocking chair. It’s clear that energy drinks are marketed strictly to teens, the ones who are more susceptible to addiction and the side effects of a high dosage of caffeine. Depending on the age and the consumption of caffeine, these side effects can include disturbed sleeping patterns, bed-wetting, anxiety, tremors, and gastrointestinal upset. Young children, pregnant women and people with heart disease should avoid these drinks entirely.