Ribose Supplements

Ribose is a five-carbon simple sugar (a pentose) that forms the carbohydrate portion, or backbone, of RNA and DNA molecules. When combined with adenine, ribose produces adenosine, one of the components of the energy currency of the cell, ATP. Ribose is used in the body in several specific ways. It can be converted into pyruvate and enter into the pathways of energy metabolism, or it can be used to manufacture nucleotides, the primary building blocks for important structures in the body such as RNA, DNA, and ATP. As a result, ribose supplements are typically marketed for increasing energy levels, exercise endurance, and muscular power output.

Clearly, anybody concerned with managing diminished blood flow to the heart or muscle tissues would be interested in ribose supplementation. In particular, people who experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or leg pain during exercise may want to consider ribose as a daily dietary supplement. The casual or occasional exerciser is unlikely to benefit from ribose supplements except in the case of several back-to-back days of intense exercise. For the “weekend warrior,” who probably has enough time between exercise sessions to fully recover ATP levels, supplemental ribose is not recommended. Competitive athletes, who may be training once or more per day, could notice very modest benefits such as increased power output and increased time to exhaustion with regular ribose supplementation (because of enhanced ATP resynthesis following exercise-induced depletion); required doses, however, are large (more than 10 g/day) and expensive.

Because ribose can serve as a precursor to adenosine (the A in ATP} and seems to stimulate the production of ATP (in laboratory studies), the theory behind ribose supplementation is that it maximizes ATP stores and therefore increases cellular energy stores for improved exercise performance and fatigue prevention.

In the cell, ATP loses its phosphate groups to generate energy. Losing one phosphate turns ATP (triphosphate) into ADP (diphosphate) and finally into AMP (monophosphate). Adenine or adenosine (no phos

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