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Ribose may be of benefit in improving exercise tolerance in people with angina by helping the heart regenerate its ATP, but the evidence that it works remains highly preliminary. 1 One small study found evidence that ribose supplements might improve heart function in people with congestive heart failure . 2 Sports enthusiasts are more interested in ATP's effects on regular muscles than on the heart muscle. At least one animal study seems to show that skeletal muscle, like heart muscle, replenishes ATP more quickly when ribose is added to the blood. 3 In theory, this could lead to enhanced performance in high intensity anaerobic exercise, such as sprinting. However, six small double-blind, placebo-controlled trials in humans failed to find any benefit. 4 In one of these studies, dextrose (a form of ordinary sugar) proved effective while ribose did not. 5 In one small, double-blind study, ribose failed to prove effective for enhancing mental function . 6 The researchers suggest that the dose they used (2 g daily) may have been insufficient.
In a few case reports, ribose apparently has produced an increase in exercise ability in people with a rare condition involving deficiency of the enzyme myoadenylate deaminase (AMPD). 7 However, no double-blind studies of ribose in AMPD deficiency have been conducted. Small, double-blind studies have failed to find ribose effective for another rare enzyme deficiency, called McArdle's disease, 8 or for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. 9
- Pliml W, von Arnim T, Stäblein A, Hofmann H, Zimmer HG, Erdmann E. Effects of ribose on exercise-induced ischaemia in stable coronary artery disease. Lancet. 340(8818):507-10.
- Omran H, Illien S, MacCarter D, St Cyr J, Lüderitz B. D-Ribose improves diastolic function and quality of life in congestive heart failure patients: a prospective feasibility study. Eur J Heart Fail. 5(5):615-9.
- Tullson PC, Terjung RL. Adenine nucleotide synthesis in exercising and endurance-trained skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol. 261(2 Pt 1):C342-7.
- Op 't Eijnde B, Van Leemputte M, Brouns F, et al. No effects of oral ribose supplementation on repeated maximal exercise and de novo ATP resynthesis. J Appl Physiol. 2001;91:2275-2281.
- Dunne L, Worley S, Macknin M. Ribose versus dextrose supplementation, association with rowing performance: a double-blind study. Clin J Sport Med. 16(1):68-71.
- Ataka S, Tanaka M, Nozaki S, Mizuma H, Mizuno K, Tahara T, Sugino T, Shirai T, Kajimoto Y, Kuratsune H, Kajimoto O, Watanabe Y. Effects of oral administration of caffeine and D-ribose on mental fatigue. Nutrition. 24(3):233-8.
- Zöllner N, Reiter S, Gross M, Pongratz D, Reimers CD, Gerbitz K, Paetzke I, Deufel T, Hübner G. Myoadenylate deaminase deficiency: successful symptomatic therapy by high dose oral administration of ribose. Klin Wochenschr. 64(24):1281-90.
- Steele IC, Patterson VH, Nicholls DP. A double blind, placebo controlled, crossover trial of D-ribose in McArdle's disease. J Neurol Sci. 136(1-2):174-7.
- Griffiths RD, Cady EB, Edwards RH, et al. Muscle energy- metabolism in Duchenne dystrophy studied by 31P-NMR: controlled trials show no effect of allopurinol or ribose. Muscle Nerve. 1985;8:760-767.