Ribose is just a simple sugar. However this simple sugar makes up the backbone of RNA which is crucial to life. RNA brings messages from DNA to the ribosome, thereby regulating gene expression. Ribose also facilitates the body’s production of ATP and NADH which are important substances in energy metabolism.
Ribose powder has been used in sports nutrition to help enhance athletic performance. It has also been used to support patients with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately there is little evidence that ribose is effective in athletic performance. The majority of the studies on ribose didn’t show an improvement in anaerobic exercise, muscle strength, and exercise capacity.
A study performed by Dr. Teitelbaum1 on patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome found that ribose at 15g / day was tolerated well by most patients. About 66% of patients experienced significant improvement. Patients noticed an improvement in energy, sleep, pain intensity, well-being, and mental clarity.
There is evidence of the effectiveness of ribose in the treatment of certain cardiac conditions. In a study published in Lancet medical journal ribose was studied2 in patients who had exercised-induced ischemia with coronary artery disease (CAD). Large dosages of 60 g / day of ribose were used in this study. The patients with CAD after 3 days showed an improvement in exercised induced ischemia.
Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) in a small study3 taking 15g ribose / day had some benefit taking ribose in enhancing quality of life after 3 weeks of the study.
- May decrease blood glucose levels and also interact with medication
- Diabetic medication
- Stomach upset
- Increase of serum insulin
While there have not been many studies of the long term safety of ribose, it appears to be safe in those not suffering from blood sugar conditions. As with most dietary supplements ribose use isn’t recommended during pregnancy or nursing.
- Teitelbaum JE, Johnson C, St Cyr J. The use of D-ribose in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med 2006;12:857-62.
- Pliml W, von Arnim T, Stalein A, et al. Effects of ribose on excercise-induced ischaemia in stable coronary artery disease. Lancet 1992;340:507-10.
- Omran H, Illien S, MacCarter D, St Cyr J, Luderitz B. D-Ribose improves diastolic function and quality of life in congestive heart failure patients: a prospective feasibility study. Eur J Heart Fail 2003;5:615-9.