Ribose Supplement Review

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  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Coronary artery disease
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Congestive heart failure
+2 (Moderate Evidence)
Chronic fatigue
+1 (Slight Evidence)


  • Ribose is one of the building blocks that forms the genetic material RNA, or ribonucleic acid. Chemically speaking, ribose is a member of the sugar family. Along with oxygen, it plays an essential role in the production of ATP, a molecule that provides cells with most of the energy they need to function. ATP cannot be synthesized without oxygen and ribose, so all of these are essential for life.
  • During a heart attack, the heart muscle becomes starved for oxygen. ATP levels drop quickly and remain low for days, even after blood flow is restored. Supplying extra ribose may raise ATP levels more quickly, and thus improve healing and exercise capacity.
  • Oral ribose may improve the tolerance of heart muscle to decreased blood flow in patients with severe coronary artery disease. One small study showed that taking ribose was associated with a delay in EKG changes and chest pain onset.


  • Multiple studies of ribose for increasing high intensity exercise capacity in athletes showed no benefit. In one study, dextrose (a form of table sugar) was more effective than ribose.
  • The studies of the effect of ribose on heart function lacked “blinding” or “randomization.” Therefore, we cannot say if the benefit was real or if it happened by chance, or “placebo effect.”
  • Ribose may interact with other medications that lower blood sugar levels. Diabetics and people who take medications to lower blood glucose must be very cautious about using ribose.
  • Ribose may raise uric acid levels in the blood or urine of patients with kidney disorders, and lead to an increased risk of gout attacks, kidney toxicity, or even kidney stones.
  • The one available study looking at ribose use for restless legs syndrome was conducted on only two people, a father and his son. This is much too small a study to draw meaningful conclusions.
  • A study of ribose for fibromyalgia was inconclusive.

Diabetics and people who take medication to lower blood glucose must use caution when using ribose.

DOSAGE:5 grams three times daily. However, because ribose is a common sugar already present in the bodies of animals and plants, it is not an essential dietary nutrient.

CONCLUSION:We conclude that ribose is a safe and effective product for the treatment of coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. While it looks promising for chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, there is not enough evidence for us to support its use for this indication. Remember to include it in your list of medications when you visit your doctor and other health care providers.

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Gebhart, B. et al. Benefit of Ribose in a Patient with Fibromyalgia. Pharmacotherapy (2004) 24(11):1646-1648
Ribose. EBSCO Publishing (2011) 1-4
Teitelbaum, J. et al. The Use of D-Ribose in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia: A Pilot Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2006) 12(9):857-862
MacCarter, D. et al. D-ribose aids advanced ischemic heart failure patients. Letters to the Editor (2008) 79-80
Shecterle, L. et al. The Patented Uses of D-Ribose in Cardiovascular Diseases. Recent Patents on Cardiovascular Drug Discovery (2010) 5, 138-142
Seifert, J. et al. The Role of Robise on Oxidative Stress During Hypoxic Exercise: A Pilot Study. Journal of Medicinal Food (2009) 12(3):690-693
Wagner, S. et al. D-Ribose, A Metabolic Substrate for Congestive Heart Failure. Progress in Cardiovascular Nursing (2009) 59-60

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