Ribose

background

Ribose has many important roles in physiology. Ribose and its related compound deoxyribose are the building blocks of the nucleic acids ribonucleic acid (RNA) and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), respectively. Ribose phosphates are used by microorganisms to make the amino acid histidine, one of the 22 amino acids commonly found in animal proteins. Ribose is the sugar that begins the metabolic process for production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the major source of energy used by cells.
Use of ribose by athletes and bodybuilders is based on the theory that ribose supplies muscle cells with a continuous supply of ATP. It is also sometimes combined with creatine, another substance that helps keep the muscles supplied with ATP, in formulations marketed to professional bodybuilders. While there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence from bodybuilders and other athletes concerning the positive effects of ribose, clinical research in this area suggests that ribose may not have effects on exercise performance.
Research has shown that ribose may help speed recovery of the heart muscle after a heart attack and improve blood flow to the heart in those affected by inadequate oxygen. Ribose supplementation has been used to support heart function and rejuvenate heart tissue after both heart attacks and heart surgery. Research has also shown that ribose may improve symptoms associated with fibromyalgia (muscle and connective tissue pain). However, research is preliminary, and firm conclusions cannot be drawn at this time.

Related Terms

ADP-ribose, aldose, C5H10O5, CorvalenĀ®, deoxyribose, monosaccharide, nucleic acids, nucleotides, pentose sugar, ribose-5-phosphate.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Ā 
Heart disease (Grade: B)
Some evidence suggests that ribose may be beneficial to individuals with heart disease. Further research is needed in this field.
Fibromyalgia (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that ribose may be beneficial to individuals with fibromyalgia. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
McArdle's disease (Grade: C)
Early evidence suggests that ribose may be beneficial to individuals with McArdle's disease. Further research is needed in this field.
Mental health (fatigue) (Grade: C)
Evidence supporting the use of ribose in fatigue-inducing mental tasks is lacking. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Muscle mass / body mass (Grade: C)
Evidence supporting the use of ribose for an effect on muscle or body mass is lacking. Further research is needed in this field.
Restless leg syndrome (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that ribose may be beneficial to individuals with restless leg syndrome. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Seizures (adenylosuccinase deficiency) (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that ribose may have a role in reducing seizure frequency. Further research is needed in this field.
Exercise performance enhancement (Grade: D)
Evidence supporting the use of ribose for exercise performance enhancement is currently unavailable. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.