Early research indicates that supplementing the sugar ribose may increase energy levels in people suffering from chronic fatigue.
Ribose is a type of sugar naturally present in living cells. It can help boost energy levels by:
- Supporting ATP production. Ribose is believed to boost energy in people with chronic fatigue through increasing production of ATP.
Ribose, also known as D-ribose (its natural form) is a sugar compound naturally produced from glucose in the body. Ribose is crucial to proper energy metabolism through its involvement in the synthesis of RNA, DNA, and most importantly adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the main cellular energy source.
Ribose supplements are sometimes used by bodybuilders and athletes looking to enhance exercise performance by increasing the availability of ATP in muscle tissue. Despite this, the vast majority of clinical research studies suggest that ribose does not enhance exercise performance in healthy individuals.
On the other hand, supplementing ribose in people suffering from prolonged fatigue – and particularly those with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia (FMS) – seems to hold some value. Early research indicates that in these cases, ribose can substantially increase energy levels and related parameters such as mood and mental clarity.
How Ribose Might Help With Energy
Supporting ATP production
ATP is the main energy source of all organisms. However, ATP production can be impaired in some cases, such as the mitochondrial dysfunction implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome. Because ribose is directly involved in ATP production, it can help the body restore ATP and thus reduce fatigue and increase energy levels.
Ribose Potential Uses and Benefits for Energy
Ribose is widely used as an energy booster by people who suffer from prolonged or chronic fatigue, such as older adults, and particularly people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Early research seems to indicate that in these cases, ribose can enhance energy levels by helping support healthy ATP levels.
This would also explain why similar to other supplements that are involved in ATP production – such as ALA and CoQ10 – ribose offers no energy-related benefits for healthy individuals, whose ATP levels are already healthy.
Early clinical research indicates that ribose can substantially (45 – 61%) enhance energy levels in people with prolonged fatigue and CFS/FMS in particular.
This preliminary study examined ribose supplementation in people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromylagia (FMS). A total of 41 people with CFS and/or FMS were given D-ribose (5 g three times daily) for 17-35 days. They reported an average 45% improvement in energy levels and a 30% improvement in overall well-being.
- The researchers concluded that “D-ribose significantly reduced clinical symptoms in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”1
In this follow-up study, 203 people with CFS or FMS were given D-ribose (5 g three times daily) for 3 weeks. The supplementation resulted in an average 61.3% increase in energy levels and 37% improvement in overall well-being.
- The researchers concluded that “D-ribose resulted in markedly improved energy levels, sleep, mental clarity, pain relief, and well being in patients suffering from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”2
This study examined D-ribose supplementation for reducing fatigue in older adults. Ten participants aged 50 or older who complained of fatigue for at least 1 month were given D-ribose (6 g) daily for 2 weeks. Supplementation resulted in a notable improvement of subjective ratings of vitality and mental outlook, which was accompanied to by improvements aerobic fitness
- The researchers concluded that “D-Ribose may offer a nutritional energy enhancement benefit in improving symptomatology.“3
Dosage for Energy
- Research studies have successfully used ribose doses of 3 – 5 g, taken 2-3 times daily
- Ribose supplements typically come as a powder taken in 5 g servings
- Ribose is most commonly sold as a powder, but can also come in capsule and tablet forms
Supplements in Review Says
- D-ribose 5 g 1-3 times daily for energy.
If you suffer from chronic fatigue, ribose might just be the right supplement. While it’s too early to say anything conclusive, current research indicates that ribose can substantially increase energy levels in people with chronic fatigue, such as CFS sufferers.
5 g 1-3 times daily is the most common dose used by researchers. This dose seems to be ideal for relieving fatigue and increasing energy levels, although you can start with 3 g taken 1-2 times daily at first.
- Teitelbaum JE et al. The use of D-ribose in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Nov;12(9):857-62. ↩
- Teitelbaum JE et al. Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia with D-Ribose– An Open-label, Multicenter Study. The Open Pain Journal,2012,5,32-37. ↩
- Flanigan R et al. D-Ribose Aids Fatigue in Aging Adults. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. May 2010, 16(5): 529-530. ↩
- Shecterle L et al. D-ribose benefits restless legs syndrome. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Nov;14(9):1165-6. ↩