D-Ribose: What Is It and How It Affects Your Energy?

Mar 6, 2020 1:58:38 PM

Written By:
DaVinci Healthcare Expert

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From straightforward tasks to the most complicated procedures, our bodies need energy. But where does this energy come from? 

When oxygen enters our body, our cells use the O2 to make cellular energy, which is the continual supply of power we need to function properly. This cellular energy is known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). 

Our muscles need ATP for the natural process that happens in any muscle contraction. As the muscles work harder, more intramuscular ATP is utilized, and this ATP must be restored for the muscles to keep moving. The same process happens when you engage in any physical activity, like walking or playing sports.

ATP and D-Ribose

D-ribose is a naturally-occurring monosaccharide, particularly found in the mitochondria. One of its principal roles is to assist with ATP production. 

The cellular production of energy in the form of ATP within the mitochondria is essential for the cellular processes the body undertakes. The mitochondria are also involved in metabolism and act as neurotransmitters in both peripheral and central nervous systems, as well as thermoregulation, the process that allows your body to maintain its fundamental internal temperature. 

The quantity of mitochondria needed depends on energy demands. For example, some cells require more energy, such as those found in the skeletal muscle, and therefore have more mitochondria than cells that require less energy.1,2

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Mitochondrial Function and D-Ribose

Mitochondria are found between the most important organelles in cells. They primarily operate as the cell powerhouse because mitochondria produce the majority of ATP. 

When mitochondria don’t work as well as they should, it can result in extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, vision and hearing problems, as well as heart, liver, and kidney problems. The lack of proper mitochondrial function at the cellular level is associated with many electrical and chemical functions that support the body. 

An essential role of the mitochondria is to convert energy from different nutrients like D-ribose and store this energy in phosphate bonds within ATP. D-ribose has been shown to improve several cellular roles to support mitochondrial function.*3,4

D-Ribose and Heart Health

The heart supplies oxygen and nutrients to tissues and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes. If the heart is not functioning correctly, our entire body is at risk.  

D-ribose can help support the production of ATP and the recovery of muscle tissues hungry for oxygen.* Most importantly, D-ribose can support other tasks the body is undertaking by helping to refuel ATP energy production in all the muscles in your body, not just your heart.*5,6

D-Ribose and Athletic Performance

D-ribose is often used to improve athletic performance and reduce symptoms of tiredness, cramping, muscular pain, and stiffness after exercise. 

When ATP, ADP (adenosine diphosphate), and AMP (adenosine monophosphate) are not available for energy production, the body needs a supplemental source to enhance its energy levels. One option is by supplementing D-ribose to improve the recovery of ATP levels and promote cellular vitality in humans.* 

The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be changed. This means that energy must be transferred or converted from one form to another. Like a motorcycle that only runs on gasoline, the human body runs on ATP. Supplemental D-ribose can help create that ATP.* 

The body can make D-ribose from glucose, but sometimes the body takes up glucose very quickly to convert it to lactic acid to produce energy. The issue with this biochemical pathway is that the buildup of lactic acid can cause symptoms like pain and inability to utilize any remaining glucose.7,8


Mitochondria are essential for regulating metabolic functions and supporting overall wellness, but their primary role is in the production of ATP. A loss of ATP production may occur as a result of diminished mitochondrial function. D-ribose is a naturally-occurring ATP substrate that can help support ATP production and enhance energy recovery when you’re feeling fatigued.*

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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1 Herrick, J., & St. Cyr, J. (2008). Ribose in the heart. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 5(2):213-7. doi: 10.1080/19390210802332752.

2 Wallace, D.C., Fan, W., & Procaccio, V. (2010). Mitochondrial energetics and therapeutics. Annual Review of Pathology, 5:297–348. doi: 10.1146/annurev.pathol.4.110807.092314.

3 Leites, E.P., & Morais, V.A. (2017). Mitochondrial quality control pathways: PINK1 acts as a gatekeeper. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 45-50, doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.06.096.

4 Ettema, T.J. (2016). Evolution: Mitochondria in the second act. Nature. 531(7592):39-40. doi: 10.1038/nature16876.

5 St. Cyr, J.A., Bianco, R.W., Schneider, J.R., Mahoney, Jr., J.R., Tveter, K., Einzig, S., & Foker, J.E. (1989). Enhanced high energy phosphate recovery with ribose infusion after global myocardial ischemia in a canine model. Journal of Surgical Research, 46(2):157-162. doi: 10.1016/0022-4804(89)90220-5.

6 Mills, E.L., Kelly, B., & O’Neill, L.A.J. (2017). Mitochondria are the powerhouses of immunity. Nature Immunology, 18(5):488-498. doi: 10.1038/ni.3704.

7 Seifert, J., Frelich, A., Shecterle, L., & St. Cyr, J. (2008). Assessment of Hematological and Biochemical parameters with extended D-Ribose ingestion. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5:13. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-13.

8 Vyas, N.K., Vyas, M.N., & Quiocho, F.A. (1991). Comparison of the periplasmic receptors for L-arabinose, D-glucose/Dgalactose, and D-ribose. Structural and Functional Similarity. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 266(8):5226-37.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.