Ribose, also called D-ribose, is a naturally-occurring simple sugar that your body makes from glucose. This substance is found in ribonucleic acid and deoxyribose acid, the genetic information carriers better known as RNA and DNA, respectively. Ribose is also a component of several compounds involved in metabolism, most notably adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which regulates energy production and storage in cells. Although ribose hasn’t been studied extensively, there is evidence to support its use as a dietary supplement. In fact, research indicates that ribose may benefit people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and congestive heart failure.
Since ribose is necessary for energy production, supplementing with this substance may enhance athletic endurance by increasing the rate of muscle ATP recovery and reducing fatigue after intense exercise. Therefore, nutritional supplement manufacturers market it as a dietary aid for athletes, particularly body builders. Ribose is also added to energy drinks, although it may appear in the list of ingredients as a brand name, such as Corvalen.
According to Linda Page, author of “Cooking for Healthy Healing,” ribose enables the heart to increase energy reserves. She says that this compound permits the heart to replenish more than 85 percent of its ATP levels within 24 hours. This is of particular significance to people with heart disease. For example, people with ischemia may experience a fall of 50 percent or more ATP because not enough oxygen is being delivered to cells.
According to Dr. Jacob E. Teitelbaum, lead investigator of a pilot study published in the Nov. 12, 2006 issue of “The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,” supplementation of 5 grams of ribose three times per day for 28 days reduced muscle fatigue and stiffness in people with chronic fatigue syndrome. While these results seem promising, the study failed to include a placebo group. In addition, the treatment group was small, and only 66 percent of the 41 participants reported significant improvement. It is unclear if these effects were long-term, as there was no follow-up.
An unspecified number of people involved in the study cited above also suffered from fibromyalgia, so reports of overall symptom improvement were also attributed to ribose therapy. However, a case study published in the Nov. 24, 2004 issue of “Pharmacotherapy” suggested that ribose specifically benefited one woman with fibromyalgia when it was added to her treatment regimen. The authors of the study, Benjamin Gebhart, Ph.D., and James A. Jorgenson, M.S., speculated that ribose may benefit people with fibromyalgia by correcting imbalances of muscle adenine compounds, including ATP, a scenario that depletes cells of energy.
- “The Health Benefits of Ribose: The All-natural Energy Booster”; Paul Addis; 2007
- “Cooking for Healthy Healing”; Linda Page; 2002
- Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: The Use of D-ribose in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: A Pilot Study
- Pharmacotherapy: Benefit of Ribose in a Patient With Fibromyalgia
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.