Start at the Foundation
Ribose is a simple supplement with a big potential. Cardiologists have found it to be a helpful member of the heart treatment team. It has also grabbed the attention of doctors and patients alike for its improvements to fatigue.
Ribose is a carbohydrate, or sugar, used in the cell to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is extremely important, as it’s the energy unit that fuels our cells and bodies. It is needed to help our muscles squeeze, heart pump, brains think and countless actions that we don’t consciously control.
Clinical studies show this “healthy sugar” can help you get rid of fatigue. It goes to the root cause by building energy in every single cell of your body. This special sugar can help you even if you’ve been taking energy boosters like CoQ10 and L-carnitine, but without the improvement you want.
Ribose is special and different from other sugars because it has only five carbons in its chemical structure, as opposed to six carbons in common sugars, like glucose, sucrose, and fructose. The 6-carbon sugars raise blood sugar levels, and cause your body to produce insulin.
Unlike 6-carbon sugars, the 5-carbon sugar ribose does not raise blood sugar levels or cause your body to produce insulin. Instead, it helps you burn off more sugar, and get rid of fatigue at the root cause. It has to do with how the body produces energy, and how the lack of energy production is the root cause of fatigue.
The Root Cause of Fatigue
As you may know, your cells contain tiny “power plants” called mitochondria. These power plants produce an energy molecule called ATP – which is the source of all energy in your body. The more ATP your cells produce, the more energy you have.
Ribose provides a raw material to facilitate ATP production. Many doctors believe that at least part of the problem with chronic illnesses and fatigue is a lack of energy production to keep the muscles and brain “happy”.
One of the main goals of ribose supplementation is to improve symptoms by aiding energy production. When your ATP levels are low, you feel fatigued and sluggish, as you don’t have enough energy. To restore your energy and recover from fatigue, your cells have to produce more ATP.
The problem is that your cells need ATP to make ATP. The less ATP you have, the less ATP your cells can make. It’s a vicious cycle. As a result, your ATP levels never recover to optimal levels, even with plenty of rest – and that’s why you’re tired all the time!
Build an Energy Pool in Every Cell of Your Body
Fortunately, ribose can help recover ATP to optimal levels. Ribose makes it much easier for your cells to produce ATP because ribose is an actual building block of ATP.
To understand how this works, think of the money in your savings account. The bigger your savings, the more money you can draw out to use. In a similar way, the more ribose stored in your cells, the more ATP and energy your cells can produce. And that’s how you can get rid of fatigue at the root cause. All you have to do is build a large pool of ribose in your cells, so that they get a continuous supply of ribose to make ATP. This ensures you’ll never be low in energy, and be fatigued again.
Proven to Work in Clinical Studies
Is ribose really that effective at overcoming fatigue? According to research studies, the answer is YES! For example, in one animal study, scientists took lab rats and clamped their blood vessels, in order to slow down blood flow and deprive the rats’ hearts of oxygen. This, in turn, caused their ATP levels to plunge.
The scientists then split the rats into two groups: one received ribose, and one didn’t. The Result: The rats in the control group continued to have a serious decline in ATP levels. In contrast, the rats taking ribose saw their ATP levels go back to normal within 24 hours!
In another animal study, scientists found that ribose sped up the recovery of fatigued muscles by up to 430%. They also found that even tiny amounts of ribose helped the cells preserve energy. In a Lancet study of 20 men, researchers found that those taking ribose could exercise much harder before being fatigued.
In a clinical study, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, took a group of 36 patients who suffered from fatigue and gave each one a small bottle of ribose. He then told them to take the ribose daily until the bottle was empty. The patients saw a dramatic improvement in their energy levels. Plus, they also reported sleeping better… thinking clearer… and enjoy improved well-being.
In a case study published in the journal Pharmacotherapy, a veterinarian was forced to give up the practice she loved due to her debilitating fatigue. She felt depressed and helpless. So when she heard about ribose, she decided to give it a try immediately. She was back to her operating room in 3 weeks, practicing normally without any fatigue.
But… being a very skeptical person, she didn’t believe that a “sugar” could have such a dramatic effect on her condition. So she stopped taking ribose. Within two weeks, her debilitating fatigue returned. And again, she was forced to leave her practice. But when she resumed her ribose supplementation, her fatigue was gone in days.
That’s how effective ribose is at treating fatigue, and boosting energy. But ribose does more than that.
Strengthens Heart Muscles and Heart Functions
Your heart pumps a large volume of blood every second. This uses up a lot of energy. This energy comes from the ATP your heart cells produce.
The problem is, when your heart is weakened, maybe due to aging or after a surgery, the heart cells are no longer able to produce enough ATP and energy. Without enough energy, the heart muscles become fatigued and starve for even more energy. That’s why people with weakened hearts are so tired all the time. It’s not uncommon for heart patients to complain that they can’t even walk to their mailbox without being so out of breath that they have to sit down.
The good news is that it’s possible to strengthen your heart muscles and improve your stamina with ribose. In a German study, researchers took a group of heart patients and hooked them up to an echocardiograph to test their heart functions. After that, they gave the patients ribose or a placebo for 3 weeks. After 3 weeks, they re-tested the heart functions of the patients.
The patients taking ribose showed increased energy in their hearts. Their hearts filled and pumped more normally compared to the hearts of the control group. Not only that, the ribose group also reported to enjoy a better quality of life. But the researchers didn’t stop there. They had the patients run on treadmills to see how well they performed. Compared to the control group, the ribose group could run for a much longer time before showing signs of fatigue.
In another study, researchers took a group of heart patients and tested them on stationary bicycles. The patients taking ribose performed much better than the control group. What’s more, the ribose group also showed to have stronger hearts, as measured by the amount of blood they pumped!
In still another study, researchers gave ribose to patients who had heart injury. The patients showed improved blood flow, improved oxygen-uptake, and greater exercise capacity.
And in yet another study, researchers gave ribose to a group of 143 patients who had previous bypass surgery. The patients showed much greater hearts’ pumping ability compared to the patients who had bypass surgery, but without taking ribose.
Ribose can really help you maintain a healthy heart, improve your stamina, and put an end to fatigue. (By the way, there are no adverse side effects from taking ribose.)
Problem: You Cannot Find Ribose in any Food.
D-Ribose is made in the cells. However, when blood flow and oxygen are compromised (such as in an illness, high stress or activity, the cells can lose a lot of their ATP stores. Then it can take weeks to replenish them – assuming additional stresses are not continuing to deplete them. Then, external input might be needed.
The problem is that, while ribose is a naturally occurring substance throughout the body, it is not found with significant concentration in any food. Ribose must be supplemented to have a significant effect. So the only way to boost your ribose levels is by taking a ribose supplement. (We do not sell it but will suggest some good sources in our Additional Supplements.)
Ribose certainly appears to be safe when taken for prevention. The only set back may be financial, as a strong treatment dose of D-ribose can be 30 to 50 dollars per month. However, the benefits could be easily worth the cost. We can help you lower that cost by good sources and not going overboard on the amount taken. (For prevention, key nutrients like our Ultimate Foundation multi-nutrients and fish oil also help.)
Ribose is typically well tolerated. Patients with decreased exercise ability due to a weakened heart could also consider ribose. As a supplement, it is often listed as D-ribose and typically comes as a powder to mix in water or juice.
Therapeutic dosage is 5 g taken 3 times a day, for 3-4 weeks. After this time, patients can try going to the same dose twice a day, maintaining the amount that keeps the improvement in symptoms. No major interactions for D-ribose are known, and side effects are limited to minor GI disturbance in some.
A more pocket-friendly dosage is 5 g twice a day for 2 weeks. Then, drop to 5 g. each day for maintenance. It will give you close to the therapeutic results at a more affordable price (especially if you are taking a good multi like our Ultimate Foundation.)
For Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, we have an answer. (Information)
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D-ribose benefits restless legs syndrome. Shecterie L., Kasubick R, St Cyr J., J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Nov;14(9):1165-6.
J Med Food 11 (1) 2008, 199–200 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. and Korean Society of Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1089/jmf.2007.503
Guazzi M, Myers J, Arena R: Cardiopulmonary exercise testing in the clinical and prognosis assessment of diastolic heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005;46:1883–1890.
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Zimmer HG, Ibel H: Ribose accelerates the repletion of the ATP pool during recovery from reversible ischemia of the rat myocardium. J Mol Cell Cardiol 1984;16:863–866.
Omran H, Illien S, MacCarter D, St. Cyr J, Lüderitz B: D-Ribose improves diastolic dysfunction and quality of life in congestive heart failure patients: a prospective feasibility study. Eur J Heart Fail2003;5:615–619.
Carter O, MacCarter D, Mannenbach S, et al.: D-Ribose supplementation improves peak exercise capacity and ventilatory efficiency in heart failure patients [abstract]. J Am Coll Cardiol 2005;45(3 Suppl A):185A.