Ribose forms the carbohydrate backbone of DNA and RNA, as well as that of vitamins B2 and B12. It’s also one of the building blocks of ATP, the body’s principal energy-containing molecule. To make and recycle ATP, our cells need adequate amounts of chemicals called adenine nucleotides, which ultimately depends on the presence of ribose. Although ribose is produced in the cells, low levels of its building blocks in heart and muscle cells can limit production.
What are Its Benefits?
Research indicates that ribose supplements can improve heart function in patients with congestive heart failure, as well as reduce pain and stiffness in overused muscles. These benefits can be traced to improved bioenergetics and the replenishment of ATP. Significant quantities of ATP are often lost from heart and muscle cells that are overworked or do not receive enough blood supply to meet increased oxygen demands.
In a recent study, 15 patients with coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure received either 5 grams of ribose three times daily or placebos for three weeks. The supplements were then switched for another three-week period, so each participant took both ribose and a placebo during the study. Patients developed more efficient heart-pumping action when taking ribose. The supplement also improved exercise stamina and overall quality of life. No improvements occurred when participants took placebos. Another study finds that ribose also improves exercise tolerance in patients with advanced heart failure.
Why Take a Supplement?
Supplements sidestep the body’s production of ribose and make it available quickly for heart and muscle cells. Many runners, athletes, and body builders take ribose supplements to boost their stamina and strength. By doing so, they increase their mitochondrial activity and fuel reserves for their cells. Ribose can benefit anyone who wants to increase energy levels or who has a heart condition.
Dosage and Considerations
If you are already taking CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, and carnitine, adding ribose may lead to an incremental (rather than significant) increase in energy. For improved energy levels, take 1,000 to 2,000 mg of ribose daily. If you regularly engage in strenuous exercise, consider taking up to 5 grams of ribose before exercising and 5 grams immediately afterward during your cool-down phase. If you have heart disease, you may benefit from 5 grams of ribose two or three times daily. Also, if you have heart disease, take ribose under the guidance of a physician because your requirements for heart medications may decrease. If you’re in good health, there shouldn’t be a problem.“
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