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What Is Ribose Supplement?

By Sarah Terry

Ribose is a type of carbohydrate that plays several vital roles in your body. Although ribose isn’t considered an essential nutrient, you can get small amounts of the sugar from plant- and animal-based foods. Ribose is also available in supplement form, typically marketed for sports-performance enhancement. Before you begin taking a ribose supplement, consult your doctor to discuss the correct dosage and potential dangers.


Ribose helps in DNA and RNA synthesis in your body’s cells. Ribose’s most significant function, however, is its crucial role in manufacturing adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the main energy source for the cells in your body.


Ribose may help in treating angina, congestive heart failure and congenital myoadenylate deaminase deficiency (AMPD), according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The specific use of ribose in treating heart disease stems from its ability to maintain ATP levels in the heart during angina or a heart attack, when oxygen delivery to the heart is low. Additionally, ribose may improve heart function in people with congestive heart failure and exercise tolerance in people with angina. Ribose may also help treat chronic fatigue syndrome when taken in combination with evening primrose oil, fish oil, melatonin and other supplements, notes Talk with your doctor before taking ribose for any health condition.


Ribose could have the potential to enhance sports performance by increasing ATP retention in your body’s skeletal muscles, says UPMC. Ribose could also improve mental function, but at higher doses. You might take ribose supplements to help treat fibromyalgia as well, notes the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS). No conclusive scientific evidence supports the use of ribose for treating any medical condition, however.


Ribose is most commonly branded as a sports supplement, with recommended dosages ranging from 1 to 10 g daily, according to UMHS. Higher doses of ribose are sometimes recommended for treating heart disease, however. For example, a dosage for heart disease would typically be 15 mg of ribose taken four times daily. Ribose is available in capsules, powders and liquids. Ask your physician about the dosage that’s right for you before taking ribose supplements for any health purpose.


While taking ribose supplements, you could experience side effects like diarrhea and other gastrointestinal complaints, as well as low blood-sugar levels, says UMHS. Nausea and headaches are also reported side effects from ribose. Although no serious health dangers have been reported from taking ribose, no formal safety testing has been conducted on the supplement either, warns UPMC.

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