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Ribose is a type of sugar normally made in the body from glucose. Ribose plays important roles in the synthesis of RNA, DNA, and the energy-containing substance adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
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For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Refer to label instructions
In one study, men with severe coronary heart disease who took ribose were able to exercise significantly longer than those taking placebo before experiencing chest pain and before abnormalities appeared on their electrocardiogram (ECG).
In a controlled study, men with severe coronary heart disease were given an exercise test, after which they took either 15 grams of ribose or a placebo four times daily for three days. Compared with the initial test, men taking ribose were able to exercise significantly longer before experiencing chest pain and before abnormalities appeared on their electrocardiogram (ECG), but only the ECG changes were significantly improved compared with those in the placebo group.1 Sports supplement manufacturers recommend 1 to 10 grams per day of ribose, while heart disease patients and people with rare enzyme deficiencies have been given up to 60 grams per day.
Refer to label instructions
Ribose is a type of sugar used by the body to make the energy-containing substance adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which gets depleted during intense exercise. Reports have suggested that taking ribose might increase power during short, intense bouts of exercise.
Ribose is a type of sugar used by the body to make the energy-containing substance adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Intense exercise depletes muscle cells of ATP as well as the ATP precursors made from ribose,2 , 3 though these deficits are typically replaced within minutes.4 Unpublished reports suggested that ribose supplementation might increase power during short, intense bouts of exercise.5 , 6 However, in a double-blind study, exercisers took four grams of ribose four times per day during a six-day strength-training regimen, and no effects on muscle power or ATP recovery in exercised muscles were found.7 In two other controlled studies, either 10 grams of ribose per day for five days or 8 grams every 12 hours for 36 hours resulted in only minor improvements in some measures of performance during repetitive sprint cycling.8 , 9
How It Works
How to Use It
Sports supplement manufacturers recommend 1 to 10 grams per day of ribose.
Where to Find It
Ribose is present in small amounts in many foods of plant or animal origin.
Ribose is not an essential nutrient, therefore deficiencies do not occur.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
No known side effects have been reported from the use of ribose when consumed in amounts of less than 10 grams per day. Larger amounts may cause gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea,10 and may lower glucose levels,11 although it is not known whether symptoms of hypoglycemia might result.
1. Pliml W, von Arnim T, Stablein A, et al. Effects of ribose on exercise-induced ischemia in stable coronary artery disease. Lancet 1992;340:507-10.
2. Hellsten-Westing,Y, Norman B, Balsom PD, Sjodin B. Decreased resting levels of adenine nucleotides in human skeletal muscle after high-intensity training. J Appl Physiol 1993;74:2523-8.
3. Tullson PC, Terjung RL. Adenine nucleotide synthesis in exercising and endurance-trained skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol 1991;261:C342-7.
4. Zhao S, Snow RJ, Stathis CG, et al. Muscle adenine nucleotide metabolism during and in recovery from maximal exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol 2000;88:1513-9.
5. Ziegenfuss T. The effects of Ribocell supplementation on repeated sprint performance: a pilot study. Submitted to the American College of Sports Medicine 47th Annual Meeting, 1999.
6. Trappe S. Effect of ribose supplementation on nucleotide depletion following high intensity exercise in human skeletal muscle, 1999. Data on file at Bioenergy, Inc., 13840 Johnson St. N.E., Minneapolis, MN 55304.
7. Op 'T Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M, Brouns F, et al. No effects of oral ribose supplementation on repeated maximal exercise and de novo ATP resynthesis. J Appl Physiol 2001;91:2275-81.
8. Kreider RB, Melton C, Greenwood M, et al. Effects of oral D-ribose supplementation on anaerobic capacity and selected metabolic markers in healthy males. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2003;13:76-86.
9. Berardi JM, Ziegenfuss TN. Effects of ribose supplementation on repeated sprint performance in men. J Strength Cond Res 2003;17:47-52.
10. Gross M, Reiter S, Zollner N. Metabolism of D-ribose administered continuously to healthy persons and to patients with myoadenylate deaminase deficiency. Klin Wochenschr 1989;67:1205-13.
11. Gross M, Zollner N. Serum levels of glucose, insulin, and C-peptide during long-term D-ribose administration in man. Klin Wochenschr 1991;69:31-6.
Last Review: 07-08-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.