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Ribose is a type of sugar used by the body to make the energy-containing substance adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Intense exercise depletes muscle cells of ATP as well as the ATP precursors made from ribose,1, 2 though these deficits are typically replaced within minutes.3 Unpublished reports suggested that ribose supplementation might increase power during short, intense bouts of exercise.4, 5 However, in a double-blind study, exercisers took 4 grams of ribose four times per day during a six-day strength-training regimen, and no effects on muscle power or ATP recovery in exercised muscles were found.6 In two other controlled studies, either 10 grams of ribose per day for five days or 8 grams every 12 hours for 36 hours resulted in only minor improvements in some measures of performance during repetitive sprint cycling.7, 8
No known side effects have been reported from the use of ribose when consumed in amounts of less than 10 grams per day. Larger amounts may cause gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea,9 and may lower glucose levels,10 although it is not known whether symptoms of hypoglycemia might result.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2017.