What is D-Ribose?
D-ribose (also referred to as Ribose) is a pentose monosaccharide sugar (simple sugar) naturally synthesized in the body, commonly found in nature and available as a supplement. It plays an important role in energy production for the whole body and serves as a building block for genetic material.
It is formed in the body from glucose through a process known as the pentose phosphate pathway and can be found in all cells. The body uses Ribose as a necessary component in the synthesis of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
ATP is known as the main energy currency of cells or the primary energy carrier in cells, transporting energy that is vital for metabolic activities and for powering muscle contraction.
As such, it is the molecule that provides the energy to run the body. As we age, our cells become fatigued, cellular energy levels decline and our physical level of energy or fatigue is determined by the amount of ATP in tissues.
Unlike other sugars that are burned by the body to recycle energy with the help of oxygen we’re breathing in, the body recognizes D-ribose as a different sugar, preserves it and utilizes it to make this energy molecule.
D-ribose also serves a major component in the formation of RNA or ribonucleic acid which acts as a messenger that carries instructions from DNA for the synthesis of proteins that the body needs.
All our cells naturally produce D-ribose and some organs such as the liver and adrenal glands produce it in high amounts. However, the brain, nerve tissue, heart and muscles produce only enough to meet their daily demands. It is not stored in cells and tissues and unfortunately, its production is a slow process when it is in additional demand.
If the muscles and heart are healthy, the required amount of D-ribose will be produced. However, if conditions are less than perfect, such as reduced blood flow and oxygen, fluctuations in its production may occur, decreasing the supply in the mitochondria or the powerhouse of the cell where the production of cellular energy occurs in the form of ATP.
Since D-Ribose plays a fundamental role in its synthesis, it may lead to impairing the production of adenosine triphosphate which can result in low energy levels, poor health and less than ideal cognitive performance.
Supplemental D-Ribose is most commonly used to help boost energy levels, reduce muscle fatigue and speed up recovery among athletes. In addition, preliminary research suggests that this supplement is useful for improving the symptoms of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and various other conditions.
This article will discuss in more detail the effects and associated health benefits of D-Ribose, the potential side effects and dosage guidelines.
D-Ribose Benefits For Energy Recovery
Research with D-Ribose suggests that this supplement increases energy production and it is used for various indications including athletic performance, post-workout recovery and muscle cramping. There is also some evidence that it may be effective for easing pain and fatigue in patients with Fibromyalgia and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).
The body produces Ribose and preserves it to further provide fuel to the heart, brain, muscle and to other tissues in the body. It is an essential key component to the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecule that stores and delivers energy in all cells and is also involved in its salvage pathways. Without Ribose, ATP cannot be produced and the more it is available, the faster ATP levels are restored.
ATP is the body’s basic form of energy and every cell requires it to maintain its level of energy and function. It provides the energetics for muscle movement, nerve signals, heartbeats, and bodily chemical reactions. This happens within the mitochondria of cells or “the powerhouse of the cell” where 99% of ATP is produced and where the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur.
In cases where the heart and muscle tissue are in healthy states, they have the capacity to produce an adequate amount of Ribose they need to further work in the synthesis of energy ATP.
After periods of physical exertion when normal muscle tissue has been stressed, you may experience muscle soreness but after a few rested days, energy levels tend to get restored and stiffness and soreness go away.
However, when muscles are constantly stressed and trying to repair themselves, more energy is used and the constant demand for the synthesis of energy as well as its depravity ensues. If there is an energy deficit it can take longer for muscles to heal and you may experience relentless symptoms like chronic fatigue, muscle stiffness and pain which makes the availability of Ribose crucial to energy recovery.
The need for more energy than the body can generate has been associated with both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. D-Ribose has shown to increase cellular energy synthesis in skeletal muscles and heart which may be beneficial to patients suffering from these conditions.
According to one study involving 41 patients diagnosed with either Fibromyalgia or CFS, 66% of patients saw significant improvement in energy levels, sleep, mental clarity, pain intensity and overall sense of well-being when given 5 grams (5000 mg) of D-Ribose, three times daily and on average, reported a 45% increase in energy.
Users online have often reported experiencing a natural boost in general daily energy levels, enhanced mental clarity and say they feel more drive to get through the day when using D-Ribose while bodybuilders suggest they have reduced muscle soreness in between workouts.
Other Uses of D-Ribose
D-Ribose supplements are additionally used for other related conditions involving low energy levels and muscular pain.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) has been associated with many conditions that damage the heart muscle like coronary artery disease (CAD). Patients suffering from CHF/CAD tend to experience fatigue, weakness and other possible symptoms.
Studies have demonstrated that myocardial ischemia, a condition where there is reduced blood supply to the heart muscle (which contains oxygen and nutrients) alters fuel metabolism and contributes to a reduction in cellular ATP production.
Additionally, limited evidence suggests that taking 5 grams of D-Ribose up to three times daily with a meal (over a period of up to 9 weeks) may help reduce the severity and onset of symptoms of restless leg syndrome.
Side Effects of D-Ribose Supplements
As the body naturally produces D-Ribose and it occurs widely in nature, short-term supplementation is considered generally safe for most adults.
Some potential side effects may occur including nausea, diarrhea, headaches and gastrointestinal discomfort. Taking D-Ribose may also lower blood sugar and supplementation should, therefore, be avoided by people who already have low blood sugar and by individuals with Diabetes who are currently already taking medication that lower blood sugar.
In addition, due to D-Ribose potential effects on blood sugar, you should stop taking it 2 weeks prior to any scheduled surgery.
D-Ribose may also interact with certain prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. The list above may not be complete so it is important to consult with your physician prior to using this supplement to ensure it is right for you.
There is no established standard dosing recommendation for D-Ribose by the FDA but the generally accepted dosage range for oral use is between 5 grams-15 grams daily (at 15 grams, divide it into three administrations of 5 grams).
In the study involving patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, 5 grams of D-Ribose, three times daily were administered to the participants.
Patients with coronary heart disease (together with exercise) have been given 15 grams several times per day.
In some cases involving patients with fibromyalgia or conditions that impair the functioning of muscles, higher daily dosages may be used and should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor.
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