What is D-ribose? What are its potential benefits on our health?

D-ribose is a naturally occurring 5-carbon sugar that is present in all living cells. In the body, ribose is
produced via the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP). [3] D-ribose has repeatedly shown to enhance
high-energy phosphates and improve function following ischemia, states of congestive heart failure,
and recently in subjects with lung disease. An initial preliminary, open label pilot study demonstrated a
positive benefit of D-ribose in "Baby-Boomer" subjects aged 50 to 65 years old complaining of
persistent fatigue. [1] It has been suggested that repeated sprints of high-intensity exercise cause a
reduction in the ATP and adenine nucleotide pool in the muscle cell, and that ribose supplementation
may be effective in enhancing de novo synthesis and recycling of these nucleotides, thus enhancing
the recovery of the muscle ATP content. [4]

Why does people believe ribose benefits living organisms in general?

Ribose plays a unique role in the metabolism of living organisms, whether prokaryotes or eukaryotes. It
and its derivatives are essential components of informational macromolecules (DNA, RNA) and of key
components in the energy currency of cells (ATP, GTP). Ribose derivatives play key roles in
photosynthesis in green plants. In principle, ribose analogs should constitute excellent toxins. [2]
Bioenergy, Inc. even states that exogenously supplemented D-ribose allows the cell to bypass the rate-
limiting steps of the pentose phosphate pathway, providing a precursor for ATP and nucleotide
synthesis. In general, D-Ribose is intended for use in conventional foods, including sports and energy
drinks, foods for particular nutritional uses (PARNUTs) and food supplements. [3]

What is the dose range for ribose?

Supplementation protocols in recent studies typically involve daily doses of 10-20 g of ribose, and have
targeted athletes undertaking intermittent high-intensity exercise programs (weight training, interval
training).  [5]

D-ribose may benefit people at risk of certain cardiac conditions.  How?

D-ribose is the sugar moiety of ATP The general hypothesis is that under certain pathologic cardiac
conditions, nucleotides (particularly ATP, ADP, and AMP) are degraded and lost from the heart. The
heart's ability to resynthesize ATP is then limited by the supply of D-ribose, which is a necessary
component of the adenine nucleotide structure. In  support of this hypothesis, recent reports have used
D-ribose to increase tolerance to myocardial ischemia. Its use in patients with stable coronary artery
disease improves time to exercise-induced angina and electrocardiographic changes. In conjunction
with thallium imaging or dobutamine stress echocardiography, D-ribose supplementation has been
used to enhance detection of  hibernating myocardium. [7]

Comments on the claim that D-ribose benefits athletes’ performance.

Australian Institute of Sport says: “Several studies that have appeared in abstract form from conference
presentations have reported favorable results following ribose supplementation in heavily training
athletes. However, the studies that have published in full in peer-reviewed journals have failed to find a
significant or consistent performance improvement in heavily training athletes who consumed ribose
supplements, compared with a placebo trial or group. [5]” Researchers from University of Michigan
states data have shown promise that ribose supplementation leads to enhanced restoration of ATP
levels following exercise, but this has seldom translated into increased athletic performance in their
review articles. [6]

L-ribose is different from D-ribose
L-ribose is a rare sugar. It is used as a starting material for many pharmaceutical compounds with
antiviral, antimalarial, and anticancer activities. The demand for this rare sugar is increasing. An
efficient production method for L-ribose from ribitol was developed using recombinant bacterial cells.
The recombinant bacterial strain was constructed by expressing the gene encoding an enzyme from
garden celery. This system represents a significantly improved method for large scale production of L-
ribose and can be applied for production of other important rare sugars. [4]


[1] The Effect of Oral D-Ribose in "Baby Boomers" With Fatigue. A Randomized, Double-Blind Study. clinicaltrials.gov
October 2009
[2] Shier, W.T., Abbas, H.K., Baird, R., Ramezani, M., Sciumbado, G. 2008. (-)-botryodiplodin, a unique ribose analog
toxin. Journal of Toxicology Toxins Reviews. (26:343-386)
[3] Views wanted on D-ribose applicationTuesday food.gov.uk 8 April 2008
[4] Woodyer, R.D., Wymer, N.J., Racine, F.M., Khan, S.N., Saha, B.C. 2008. Efficient production of L-ribose with a
recombinant Escherichia coli biocatalyst. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 74(10):2967-2975.
[5] Ribose Australian Institute of Sport October 2009
[6] Dhanoa TS, Housner JA. Ribose: more than a simple sugar? Curr Sports Med Rep. 2007 Jul;6(4):254-7.
[7] Pauly DF, Pepine CJ. D-Ribose as a supplement for cardiac energy metabolism J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2000
D-ribose Supplement -
How does it work? What are its benefits??
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