D-Ribose is a sugar molecule that is part of everyone’s DNA. D-ribose is essential because DNA is the genetic material that contains the information for all proteins produced by the human body.
D-ribose resides in ATP, which is the primary source of energy in human cells. Although the human body produces D-ribose, some people believe that D-ribose supplements can improve health and physical performance during exercise.
5 Potential Benefits of D-Ribose
- Aids ATP Cell Recovery
- Improves Muscle Function
- Increases Power Output
- Lowers Perceived Exertion
- Improves Athletic Performance
D-Ribose and ATP Energy
Some research supports the idea that D-ribose improves ATP and energy levels. While other research has revealed “possible” performance-enhancing benefits for healthy individuals taking D-Ribose.
One piece of research published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research had athletes go through an intense program of exercise, which consisted of 15 intense cycling sprints (twice a day for one week).
At the end of the week, athletes took 17 grams of D-ribose or a placebo three times a day for three days. The researchers then evaluated ATP levels in muscles over the subsequent three days before performing more cycling sprint tests.
The study found that after supplementing with D-ribose, ATP levels returned to normal in the D-ribose group, but ATP levels didn’t recover in the cyclists who took a placebo.
During the exercise test, there was no measurable difference in performance between the D-ribose and the placebo group. As a result, D-ribose’s effect on ATP remains unclear.
D-Ribose and Exercise Performance
Research examining the relationship between D-ribose and exercise notes that increased power output and lower perceived exertion can occur when participants with low levels of fitness take 10 grams of D-ribose per day.
Despite these findings, the majority of research on healthy people doesn’t show any significant improvements in performance after taking D-ribose. One study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that people who consumed D-ribose experienced fewer improvements in performance compared to people who took a different type of sugar (for example, dextrose) as a placebo.
It’s never a good sign when the placebo outperforms the treatment. Overall, the performance-enhancing effects of D-ribose appear to be more beneficial for people who are sick or people with low fitness levels. For healthy, active individuals, the evidence that D-ribose improves exercise performance is minimal at best, and detrimental at worst.
Safety and Side Effects
D-ribose is safe for short-term use. However, there isn’t much safety information regarding long-term D-ribose supplementation. Some possible side effects of D-ribose include digestive problems, nausea, stomachache, headaches, and low blood sugar. Since D-ribose can lower blood sugar levels, people who have diabetes should avoid taking D-ribose.
A single dose of 10 grams of D-ribose is considered safe and well-tolerated by healthy adults. It’s important to note that many of the studies reported in this chapter used high doses of D-ribose with multiple doses in the 15–60 gram range.
Effectiveness of D-Ribose
People with certain medical conditions may benefit from D-ribose supplementation, which includes improved muscle function and the recovery of muscle cell energy stores following periods of intense exercise. However, research indicates that D-ribose fails to improve performance in active, healthy individuals.