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11 Incredible Health Benefits of D-Ribose + Side Effects

Written by Will Hunter, BA (Psychology) | Last updated:
Medically reviewed by
Evguenia Alechine, PhD (Biochemistry), Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology) | Written by Will Hunter, BA (Psychology) | Last updated:

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D-ribose is a sugar involved in producing energy in the body and is also the structural basis of DNA and RNA. It is commonly used to help with heart disease and chronic fatigue syndrome. Read on to see how this sugar may be an effective treatment for these conditions and others.

What Is D-Ribose?

D-ribose is a naturally occurring sugar present in all living cells. It is a key component in many biological pathways but is most active in glycation (bonding between a sugar and a protein or fat molecule) [1].

D-ribose, together with adenine, make the adenosine molecule of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main storage and transportation unit of energy [2].

D-ribose is also used to make nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), two important molecules involved in cellular respiration.

D-Ribose is also the key structural basis of RNA and DNA [3, 4, 5].

Health Benefits of D-Ribose Supplementation

1) May Treat Heart Disease and Improve Heart Health

D-ribose increases ATP levels in heart cells and improves heart function [6, 7, 8].

Congestive heart failure is a condition in which heart muscles don’t pump blood as well as they should. In a study of 15 congestive heart failure patients (DB-RCT), D-ribose improved heart function [9].

D-ribose helped patients with stable heart disease to exercise longer without developing chest pains (angina) or ECG changes [10].

D-ribose and L-cysteine supplementation also lowered LDL and other oxidized fat and reduced oxidative stress in the aorta, the main artery that carries blood from the heart [11].

However, D-ribose showed no benefits in treating chronic heart failure in healthy mice or in mice with elevated myocardial creatine [12].

2) Helps with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A case study found that 5 grams of D-ribose taken twice daily with other medications reduced fibromyalgia symptoms, which returned after one week of stopping D-ribose supplementation [13].

A pilot study of 41 patients with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome found that 5 grams of D-ribose daily improved energy, sleep, mental clarity, pain intensity, and well-being [14].

3) Replenishes Energy Reserves

D-ribose enhances the recovery of energy reserves following inadequate blood supply to organs and tissues after high-intensity exercise [15].

4) Improves Muscular Strength

In a study of 24 bodybuilders 10 grams/day of D-ribose for 4 weeks significantly increased bench press strength [16].

5) May Help with Restless Leg Syndrome

D-ribose reduced daily symptoms, as well as their severity, in two male patients with restless leg syndrome [17].

6) May Improve Symptoms of Adenylosuccinase Deficiency

In a patient suffering from adenylosuccinase deficiency (severe dexterity/motor retardation), D-ribose consumption slightly improved behavior and reduced seizure frequency [18].

7) May Treat Myoadenylate Deaminase Deficiency

D-ribose successfully prevented all symptoms of myoadenylate deaminase deficiency in a 55-year-old patient [19].

8) May Protect the Kidneys

D-ribose reduced kidney dysfunction and tissue damage caused by the chemotherapy drug Cisplatin in mice [20].

D-ribose also reduced kidney damage caused by lack of blood supply and decreased neutrophil activation in rats [21].

9) May Protect the Brain

D-ribose prevents the activation of pro-apoptotic (programmed cell death) genes in the hippocampus, demonstrating a neuroprotective effect in mice with irregular heartbeat [22].

Adenylosuccinate lyase deficiency causes psychomotor deficiency, seizures, and autistic-like delay. In a 13-year-old female, motor coordination and seizure symptoms were controlled by several months of D-ribose therapy [23].

10) May Improve Weight Loss

Ribose increased gut motility in mice and increased energy expenditure, which decreases body weight [24].

11) May Reduce Testicular Toxicity Caused by Aluminum

D-ribose (in combination with L-cysteine) reduces testicular toxicity in aluminum-induced testicular damage in rats [25].

User Experiences

Hundreds of publicly run forums have taken a more personal approach on investigating successes/failures that people have had with D-ribose supplementation. Below are just a few positive and negative reviews that people have given on their personal experiences.

Positive

“I would give this a 10/10 for people looking to getting some energy back into their life. And one more thing, the general responsiveness to d-ribose seems to have a connection whether your body has little of it, some respond very well to ribose others don’t.”

“I began using D Ribose 3 weeks ago. The main benefit I have noticed is the elimination of heart palpitations… within several days they were noticeably less frequent, and after several weeks, they are gone.”

“Yes, I’ve been taking d ribose in powder form from Corvalen M (sold here at prohealth) for about 4 years. It has helped with fatigue and muscle pain. Like so many things, it’s not a cure-all but I won’t go without it since I’ve learned that when I run out within 3 days I notice a big difference.”

“I have been taking D-Ribose for over a year. It helps reduce the weakness I always felt in my limbs. And every time I experiment with stopping it, my symptoms flared up again. It has helped with the exhaustion aspect of fibro. I recommend giving it a try.”

Negative

“When I took D Ribose I used the powder and took 2 Tbsp three times per day, but not close to bedtime. It did help me some, could stand in the kitchen long enough to make dinner. The problem was that It is very, very expensive and the results are not that impressive.”

“I can’t use it. D-Ribose is made by converting glucose or corn sugar, into ribose by fermentation processes. Someone here said that it doesn’t affect hypoglycemia, but it affects me that way. Like I’ve eaten a lot of candy. I get a definite crash. It also gives me a headache. I wish I knew someone I could give my bottle to since it seems to work for some people. I have ME/CFS and have zero tolerance for anything that provides artificial “energy.” For example sugar, caffeine, Provigil, Ritalin, energy drinks, etc. I have viral onset CFS. I don’t know if our sub-sets make a difference in how we react to certain things.”

D-Ribose Dosage, Side Effects, Supplements

Dosage

Clinical studies have used between 5 -15 g daily. When supplementing with 15 g it is advised to separate into three 5 g doses.

Side Effects

By inducing protein aggregation and rapidly producing AGEs (advanced glycation end products), D-ribose may be involved in cell dysfunction and cognitive impairments [26, 27].

Long-term oral administration of D-Ribose induces memory loss with anxiety-like behavior and also elevates Aβ-like deposition and Tau hyperphosphorylation associated with Alzheimer’s [28].

Supplements

About the Author

Will Hunter

BA (Psychology)
Will received his BA in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. 
Will's main passion is learning how to optimize physical and mental performance through diet, supplement, and lifestyle interventions. He focuses on systems thinking to leverage technology and information and help you get the most out of your body and brain.

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