Ribose is a 5-carbon sugar that occurs naturally in all living cells, it is a precursor for making ATP molecules, as well as proteins, DNA, RNA and other nucleotides like NADH. Ribose as a component of RNA is used for genetic transcription, and is critical to living creatures.
Ribose was discovered in 1905 by Phoebus Levene. First animal research, by H.G. Zimmer begun in 1983 and looked at ribose effects on rats with reduced heart function. Heart function in tested animals improved after 24 hours of ribose administration. In 1984 H.G. Zimmer tested other animals and concluded that ribose had a similar myocardial ATP stimulating effect as on rats.
In 1986, a study on humans by N. Zollner, proved that ribose administration (for two years) to patients with primary myoadenylate deaminase deficiency suffering from exercise induced muscle pain and stiffness improved exercise tolerance. Another study involving humans conducted in 1992 by W. Pliml, reported that ribose administration to males with sever coronary artery disease (CAD) improved tolerance to walking on the treadmill.
Some studies used ribose in doses as high as 60 grams per day for patients with severe CHD, who didn’t experience any side effects. Other studies using the same dose caused participants to develop minor cases of diarrhea or mild and asymptomatic hypoglycemia. These studies were only a few days long. High doses should be taken under medical supervision because there is lack of evidence to make statements that long-term ribose supplementation is safe for all people.
Typical doses of ribose, for average person, used in different studies were 3 to 5 grams per day. This dosage appeared to be enough to ensure that the heart and skeletal muscle cells have an adequate supply. People who have problems with their circulation or serious athletes the dosage may be higher form 10 to 20 g per day. However it would be wise to begin with 5 g per day, and increase the dosage by 3 to 5 g if needed. Everybody who use high dosages, but especially people with any heart or circulatory problems should use ribose under medical supervision.
Based on large number of studies there are many claims regarding ribose, including its ability to increase the synthesis and reformation of ATP, to improve recovery and muscle growth, to improve high power performance and quickly restores energy levels in heart and skeletal muscles. Current research prove that ribose improves the heart’s tolerance to ischemia in patients with CHD, however there is no evidence that it has any effect on healthy individuals as an ergogenic supplement. In addition there is no published research in peer-reviewed journals that show any benefit of taking ribose for improved athletic performance. Therefore, prior to further recommendations for athletic use much more research needs to be conducted. Currently, due to lack of supporting evidence, spending money on this supplement among healthy individuals doesn’t seem wise and is not advisable.