People take extra ribose for several reasons, most of them related to exercise and sports performance.
It is primarily marketed to athletes.
Manufacturers claim that ribose:
Increases endurance and energy
Reduces muscle fatigue
Speeds up post-workout recovery
However, several studies failed to show any increase in sports performance after taking ribose supplements. As of today, the evidence strongly suggests that ribose does not help athletes.
Manufacturers recommend doses ranging from 1 to 10 grams per day.
Ribose has shown some promise for people with coronary artery disease. In those patients, the heart may not get an adequate supply of blood and oxygen during exercise. This can cause chest pains, or angina.
Some research suggests that ribose supplements may boost the amount of exercise that heart patients are able to do comfortably. The supplements may do this by helping to bring the heart's ATP levels back to normal after a heart attack or angina episode.
But these studies are too small to be conclusive. More research needs to be done.
Ribose has also been used to prevent post-workout cramps, pain, and stiffness in patients with a rare condition called AMPD deficiency. While a small amount of research supports such a use, it's too soon to tell whether ribose is truly helpful.
The same can be said for its use in patients with:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Can you get ribose naturally from foods?
Ribose can be found in both plants and animals, including:
Beef and poultry
Cheddar cheese and cream cheese
Anchovies, herring, and sardines
However, you can't get enough from food sources to meet the doses recommended by supplement manufacturers.
What are the risks of taking ribose supplements?
The safety of ribose has not been fully established. Some people who take ribose report side effects such as:
Also, ribose should likely be avoided for at least two weeks before surgery.
Before taking ribose -- or any other supplement -- talk to your doctor about potential risks. Even so-called natural supplements should be used with caution. The FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations from foods. Generally, manufacturers do not need to get FDA approval before selling dietary supplements. The FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement after it reaches the market.