D-Ribose is a molecule of 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 performance in exercise.
Here are 4 benefits of D-Ribose supplements.
1. May Improve Muscle Function
Although D-Ribose may help recover muscle ATP levels, this may not result in improved performance in healthy people. However, supplementing with D-Ribose may benefit those with specific genetic conditions that affect muscle function. After physical activity, the genetic disorder myoadenylate deaminase deficiency (MAD) or adenosine monophosphate (AMP) deaminase deficiency can cause fatigue, muscle pain, or cramps (1).
Interestingly, MAD’s prevalence varies depending on race. It is the most common Caucasian genetic muscle disease, but much less common in populations. Some studies have investigated D-Ribose in people with this condition (2, 3).
In addition, several case studies in people with this disorder have reported improvements in muscle function and well-being. Similarly, after taking D-Ribose, a small study found that people with MAD had less stiffness and cramps after exercise (4, 5).
However, other studies found no benefit from the ribose supplement. 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. Several studies have examined 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 (7, 8).
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. Overall, studies show D-Ribose’s potential to improve heart metabolism and function in people with heart disease (9, 10).
3. May Boost Exercise Performance
D-Ribose has been studied as a supplement to improve exercise performance due to its important role in ATP, the energy source of your cells. Some research supports the benefits of ribose in those with specific diseases in relation to exercise and energy production (11).
Other research has shown potential performance-enhancing benefits in healthy people, but only in those with low levels of energy. Despite these findings, performance improvements have not been shown by most research. One study even showed that the group consuming D-Ribose showed less improvement than the group consuming a different sugar (dextrose) as a placebo (13, 14, 17).
D-Ribose’s performance-enhancing effects are usually only seen in some types of disease and probably those with low levels of fitness. Evidence to support the ability of this supplement to improve the performance of exercise is limited.
4. May Help in Energy Recovery
D-Ribose is a part of ATP’s structure, the cell’s key source of energy. Research has examined whether ATP supplements in muscle cells can help improve energy stores. One study participant completes an intense exercise program with 15 all-out cycling prints for a week twice a day. Participants took about 17 grams of ribose for three days, three times a day after the course.
Researchers measured muscle ATP levels over these three days and then conducted a cycling sprint exercise test. The study shows that ATP 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 the significance of improved ATP recovery with ribose supplements (18).
Dosage and Side Effects
In studies of D-Ribose supplements, they have reported very few side effects in particular. Single doses of 10 grams of ribose is safe and well-tolerated by healthy adults. In most of the research in this article, however, they used higher doses. 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.
The Bottom Line
D-Ribose is a sugar molecule that is part of your DNA and the main molecule that supplies energy to your cells, ATP. People with certain medical conditions can enjoy D-Ribose supplements, including improved performance of exercise and recovery of energy stores of muscle cells after intense exercise. Science does not support advantages in healthy individuals, however, we need more research. 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 benefits.