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4 Benefits of D-Ribose Supplements

Many people use ribose to treat conditions such as heart disease, mental health, athletic performance, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, and more.

D-ribose is a molecule of an essential sugar. It is part of your DNA, the genetic material that contains information about all the proteins in your body, and it is also part of the primary energy source of your cells, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

While your body can produce ribose, some claim that supplementing with D-ribose can improve exercise performance.

Here are four crucial benefits of D-ribose.

1. May Improve Muscle Function

Although D-ribose may help recover muscle ATP levels, this may not result in improved performance in healthy people (1, 2).

Supplementing with D-ribose may benefit those with specific genetic conditions that affect muscle function.

After physical activity, the genetic disorder called myoadenylate deaminase deficiency (MAD) or adenosine monophosphate (AMP) deaminase deficiency can cause fatigue, muscle pain, or cramps (3, 4).

Interestingly, MAD’s prevalence varies depending on race. It is the most common Caucasian genetic muscle disease, but much less common in other populations (3).

Some studies have investigated D-ribose in people with this condition (5).

Several case studies of people with this disorder have reported improvements in muscle function and well-being (6, 7).

Similarly, after taking D-ribose, a small study found that people with MAD had fewer stiffness and cramps after exercise (8).

However, other studies found no benefit from the ribose supplement (9).

This is because the information was limited and mixed with results. Individuals with MAD who consider ribose supplements should consult with their health care providers. 

2. May Improve Heart Function

Evidence suggests that D-ribose may improve heart health, as it is essential for the production of ATP (10, 11).

Several studies have examined it in people with heart disease. One study found that 60 grams of ribose per day in people with coronary artery disease increased the capacity of the heart to withstand low blood flow during exercise (12).

Another study found that 15 grams per day enhanced the function of the heart chambers and increased the quality of life in those with the same disease (13).

Overall, studies show D-ribose’s potential to improve heart function and metabolism in people with heart disease (11, 14, 15).

3. May Boost Exercise Performance

D-ribose has been studied as a supplement to improve exercise performance because of its important role in ATP, the energy source of your cells.

Some studies support the benefits of ribose in those with specific diseases in relation to exercise and energy production (12, 2, 8).

Other studies have shown potential performance-enhancing benefits in healthy people, but only in those with low levels of energy (16).

Despite these findings, they have not shown performance improvements in most studies (2, 17, 18, 19).

According to one study, the group consuming D-ribose showed less improvement than the group consuming a different sugar (dextrose) as a placebo (20).

D-ribose’s performance-enhancing effects are only seen in some types of disease and probably in those with low fitness levels.

Evidence to support the ability of this supplement to improve exercise performance is limited. 

4. May Help in Energy Recovery

D-ribose is a part of ATP’s structure, the cell’s key source of energy. ATP supplements in muscle cells have been studied to see if they can help improve energy stores.

In one study, participants completed an extreme training program comprising 15 all-out cycling sprints twice per day for one week (1).

Participants took about 17 grams of ribose or placebo three times a day. Researchers measured muscle ATP levels over these three days and then conducted a cycling sprint exercise test.

The study shows that ATP was restored to normal levels in the ribose group after three days of supplementation but not in those taking a placebo.

There was, however, no difference in performance between the D-ribose and placebo groups during the exercise test. As a result, it is not clear whether ribose supplements improve ATP recovery.

Dosage and Side Effects

D-ribose supplements have reported very few side effects in particular. Single doses of 10 grams of ribose are safe and well-tolerated by healthy adults (21).

Most of these researches have used higher doses (1, 12, 13, 7, 22).

Many of these studies provided multiple times a day, with 15–60 grams of total daily doses. Although several of these studies did not report side effects. 

Conclusion

D-ribose is a sugar molecule that is part of your DNA and the main fragment that supplies energy in your cells.

People with certain medical conditions can benefit from D-ribose supplements, such as improved exercise performance and recovery of energy stores after intense exercise.

Science does not support these benefits in healthy people. Consider D-ribose supplements if you fall into one of the specific groups discussed in this article.

If not, it is likely that this supplement will not provide any additional benefits.

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