Do you remember what it felt like to leap out of bed in the morning when you were a kid … especially in the summer when you greeted each day with energy and enthusiasm to spare? Well, imagine how much you’d accomplish today if you had 50% of that energy.
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You’d have the stamina you need to achieve your goals, and you’d feel pretty good at the end of the day.
It could be that you need to supplement your diet with D-ribose. We’re hearing more and more about how ribose is a natural, potent energy enhancer, which just might make a difference in how you greet each day.
What is ribose?
D-Ribose (also known as ribose) is a simple sugar produced in the body that is used by all living cells. It is part of the building blocks that form DNA and RNA molecules, and is one of the crucial ingredients in the production of adenosine tri-phospate (ATP).
What is ATP?
In a nutshell, it’s called the “energy currency” of all cells. It’s the body’s primary energy-carrying molecule that assists in the conversion of nutrients into usable energy, which enables your body to function.
During vigorous exercise or times of stress, large amounts of ATP can be depleted in the heart and skeletal muscles. The problem is your heart, muscles, and other organs and tissues do not make ribose very quickly, and it is not stored in the tissues and cells. Additionally, when your heart and muscles are stressed, ribose levels can be so low that they have a difficult time recovering.
The good news is that ribose supplementation stimulates energy synthesis, allowing tissues to regenerate energy stores, giving them the boost they need to function efficiently … so that you have the energy you need to do what you want to do, while feeling good.
Why take supplemental ribose?
Lack of energy is the number one health complaint heard by doctors. The food you eat, the supplements you take, and the amount of exercise and quality of sleep you get all affect your ability to produce energy at the cellular level. But oxidation (free radical production), stress, overwork, and the quality of the air we breathe are some of the biggies that deplete our reserves and energy levels.
Whether you just want an energy boost or you are an athlete wanting to achieve your goal … whether you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or congestive heart failure and heart disease, studies show that you can benefit from adding supplemental ribose to your health regimen.
Who can benefit from D-ribose supplementation?
Everyone needs D-ribose because it is an essential ingredient in stimulating natural energy production. It is especially beneficial to older people, athletes, weekend warriors, and those dealing with chronic or unexplained fatigue, fibromyalgia, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure.
Research has shown that D-ribose may hold numerous benefits for:
- Heart disease
- Chronic muscle disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Athletic performance and recovery
How does D-ribose work?
The form of D-ribose that the body utilizes is called 5-phosphoribosyl-1-pyrophosphate (PRPP), which regulates the metabolic pathway that synthesizes energy compounds in all living tissue. This pathway is called the Purine Nucleotide Pathway (PNP). But if the body doesn’t have enough PRPP—or D-ribose—energy synthesis slows and tissue recovery is delayed. It is then crucial that ribose levels be replaced.
Scientists have found that supplemental D-ribose can rapidly stimulate the metabolic pathway used by the body to replenish these energy levels, restoring ribose levels in nerves and muscles. This in turn has a positive effect on ATP production in all muscles, especially the heart.
The general theory is that when a person has heart disease, ATP is degraded—which then means there is less energy for the heart to function properly. The heart’s ability to re-synthesize ATP is then limited by the availability of D-ribose. In support of this theory, recent studies have shown that ribose helps patients with myocardial ischemia and exercise-induced angina.1
- Increases the rate of ATP and energy recovery after strenuous exercise, stress, and overwork
- Shortens the time needed by heart and muscle tissue to replace energy that is lost through stress, exercise, and overwork
- Helps the heart and muscles maximize energy recovery
- Increases stamina and endurance, and reduces fatigue
D-Ribose and heart disease
“Congestive heart failure is one of the most common reasons people 65 and older go into the hospital.”
Heart disease is the number one killer in America. According to the American Heart Association, it claimed 871,500 lives in 2004 (36.3 percent of all deaths or 1 of every 2.8 deaths).2 There is good news though. Numerous scientific and clinical studies have shown that D-ribose can help to restore energy and function to the heart. It is especially helpful to those with ischemic cardiovascular disease3—lack of blood flow and oxygen to the heart muscle—and congestive heart failure (CHF).
Congestive heart failure is one of the most common reasons people 65 and older go into the hospital. It can take years for heart failure to develop. So if you don’t yet have it but are at risk for it, adding D-ribose to your health regimen would be an excellent start to improve your health.
What happens when the heart muscle loses its umpf?
When the heart muscle loses energy, first it suffers a loss of diastolic function. This is the relaxation phase when the heart fills with blood for the next heartbeat. When diastolic function is compromised, less blood circulates to the body during each beat, and can lead to hypertrophy; a thickening and expansion of the heart muscle. Additionally, there is inadequate oxygen circulating throughout the body, which causes the heart to overcompensate by using energy faster than it normally does. This results in a depletion of cellular energy reserves. Ultimately, it becomes a vicious cycle in which a loss of cardiac energy leads to a loss of heart function.
“An increased cellular demand for ATP can severely affect the body’s biochemistry, which may take several days to recover or may not recover at all in cases of chronic ischemia.”
Congestive heart failure is often the result of chronic diastolic dysfunction. Symptoms include shortness of breath, loss of exercise capacity, and overwhelming fatigue.
Research has also shown that intense endurance exercise puts a big strain on the heart, contributing to a loss of diastolic heart function that can continue for weeks or months following an athletic event such as a marathon or triathalon. An increased cellular demand for ATP can severely affect the body’s biochemistry, which may take several days to recover or may not recover at all in cases of chronic ischemia. Supplemental ribose, however, can enhance the recovery of heart and muscle ATP levels.4
A study of 15 patients with chronic coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure who were given D-ribose for three weeks found that the supplement improved diastolic functional parameters and enhanced their quality of life.5
A German study demonstrated that D-ribose supplementation is effective in increasing the heart’s tolerance to ischemia. Twenty patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease completed two treadmill tests on consecutive days to establish pain thresholds for each patient. The researchers then gave each patient 60 grams of ribose per day for three days, plus another treadmill test. The patients who took ribose were able to walk further before experiencing pain than those given the placebo.6
“D-ribose is a powerful fatigue fighter—20% of Americans suffer from fatigue that interferes with their normal life.”
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
Chronic fatigue syndrome is the diagnosis used to describe fatigue that lasts more than six months and can’t be attributed to any other illness. It affects more than one million people in the U.S. Although it is more common in people in their 40s and 50s, it can occur in any age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic group. The symptoms usually include four or more of the following:
- Sore throat
- Impaired short-term memory and/or concentration
- Tender lymph nodes
- Joint pain without swelling or redness
- Muscle pain
- Unrestful sleep
Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are debilitating syndromes that are often associated with impaired cellular energy metabolism. An uncontrolled pilot study of 41 patients was done to see if ribose could improve symptoms of fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue.
66% of the patients with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue syndrome who took D-ribose showed an improvement in their energy, sleep, mental clarity, pain tolerance, and sense of well-being. Among these patients, their energy levels increased about 45% and they experienced an average 30% boost in overall well-being. The researchers concluded that ribose significantly reduced clinical symptoms in these patients suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.7
An article that appeared in the 2004 issue of Journal of Pharmacology highlighted a case study about a fibromyalgia patient who added supplemental D-ribose to her regimen and subsequently had a significant decrease in symptoms.8
Ribose and athletic performance
Free radicals are produced during intense exercise. Based on this theory and the theory that ribose is present in ATP, and that increasing adenine nucleotide availability may enhance high intensity exercise capacity, ribose supplements have been popular with athletes and active individuals for many years. However, there have only been a few clinical studies done that prove this theory.
In one study D-ribose (10g/d) was shown to increase athletic performance and muscular strength in healthy, young male recreational bodybuilders after four weeks. No significant changes in their body composition were noted, and there were no changes at all found in the men who took a placebo.9
Another study of seven healthy men who did two ergometric sessions (stress tests to determine physiology) on a bicycle to exhaustion at a one-week interval indicated that D-ribose improved the efficiency of their energy production.
Before the second test, the men took seven grams of ribose, which resulted in a reduction of urinary MDA—an indicator of oxidation and lower heart rates, when compared to the group who didn’t take the D-ribose supplement.10
What should I look for in a D-ribose supplement?
Look for a D-ribose product that contains pure ingredients in an easy-to-use powder form. It should contain proven amounts that have shown to be effective in research studies. Dosage in these studies typically ranged between 5-60 grams daily.
Most tissues in the body—especially the heart—are unable to produce ribose fast enough to restore levels once they’ve been depleted. It’s a matter of supply and demand. Just as a car battery needs enough fluid to keep it charged and running, your body needs plenty of ribose to help it produce the ATP that supplies cells with an energy current.
So whether you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome or congestive heart failure or heart disease … or whether you just want an energy boost or are an athlete wanting to achieve your goals, consider adding supplemental D-ribose to your health regimen for the energy boost that might make a big difference in your life.
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This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.
Pauly DF, Pepine CJ. D-Ribose as a supplement for cardiac energy metabolism. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Oct;5(4):249-58.
Pauly DF, Johnson C, St Cyr JA. The benefits of ribose in cardiovascular disease. Med Hypotheses. 2003 Feb;60(2):149 -51.
Dodd SL, Johnson CA, Fernholz K, St Cyr JA. The role of ribose in human skeletal muscle metabolism. Med Hypotheses. 2004;62(5):819-24.
Omran H, Illien S, MacCarter D, St Cyr J, Lüderitz B. D-Ribose improves diastolic function and quality of life in congestive heart failure patients: a prospective feasibility study. Eur J Heart Fail. 2003 Oct;5(5):615-9.
Pliml W, von Arnim T, Stäblein A, Hofmann H, Zimmer HG, Erdmann E. Effects of ribose on exercise-induced ischemia in stable coronary artery disease. Lancet. 1992 Aug 29;340(8818):507-10.
Teitelbaum JE, Johnson C, St Cyr J. The use of D-ribose in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Nov;12(9):857-62.
Gebhart B, Jorgenson JA. Benefit of ribose in a patient with fibromyalgia. Pharmacotherapy. 2004 Nov;24(11):1646-8.
Van Gammeren, D., Falk, D., and Antonio, J. The effects of four weeks of ribose supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in healthy, young, male recreational body builders: A double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Current Therapeutic Research, 2002, 63: 8, 486-495.
Seifert, J.G., Subudhi, A., Fu, M.X., et al. The effects of ribose ingestion on indices of free radical production during hypoxic exercise. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2002, 33 (Suppl 1): S269