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D-Ribose For Energy In ME/CFS

D-Ribose – The Energy Currency For Our Body

D-Ribose is an extremely useful supplement used by athletes for boosting muscle energy and may also be a very beneficial supplement for those with heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and fibromyalgia. In these diseases it may help to improve energy, brainfog, sleep, pain and well being. Before we can understand how D-Ribose works we need to understand how energy is created and recycled in the body.

Energy and ATP in your body

D-Ribose is a simple sugar which is easily absorbed by the body and is an integral part of recycling ATP in the body. ATP Adenosine Triphosphate (3 phosphates) is extremely important for your entire body to function.

ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate, put simply an ATP is a molecule in your body which is made up of 1 Adenosine and 3 Phosphates. You can think of ATP as the currency that your body uses for energy right throughout the body to power every single cell whether it be in your organs or muscles. All of the cells in your body need energy for movement, synthesis and transport and ATP is the main unit for this required energy.

So ATP is great, we need it on a continuous basis to keep powering all of our cells. The way that ATP makes energy is it drops 1 of its 3 phosphates and becomes ADP Adenosine Diphosphate (2 phosphates), whilst doing this a reaction takes place and energy is released! Refer the diagram below for a visual explanation.

ATP to ADP diagram

Cells require energy continuously and therefore we require an endless supply of ATP, this is where the very important “ATP cycle” comes into play. We need to be able to recycle ADP (with 2 phosphates) back into ATP (with 3 phosphates), if we don’t do this then the phosphates just keep dropping off and we eventually have an energy shortfall and our body has to create ATP from scratch.

So how does ADP get recycled back into ATP? This happens via a process called cellular respiration and it occurs in the “mitochondria” which are tiny structures floating around inside the cell. Unfortunately people with CFS often have a dysfunction with their mitochondria and therefore struggle to recycle ATP and create energy.

ADP to ATP diagram

The ATP cycle in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

So because of a mitochondrial problem, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome slowly recycle ATP.

With normal people there is sufficient ATP in a heart cell to last for approximately 10 heartbeats, this means that ATP needs to be recycled about every 10 seconds. High performance athletes and Olympians probably recycle ATP every 5 seconds, however patients who have ME/CFS may only be able to recycle ATP every minute! Therefore it takes people with ME/CFS 1 minute to do what normal people can do in ten seconds, this explains the lack of energy and extensive fatigue in CFS patients.

Sprinter picture

Enter D-Ribose – The Energy Maker!

As explained above, people with CFS struggle to recycle ATP/energy, their phosphates keep dropping off of their ATP until they eventually have to make ATP/energy from scratch, this is where D-Ribose comes into play.

D-Ribose can help to create ATP/energy extremely quickly. The body usually makes D-Ribose from glucose but because the body’s cells are lacking energy, any spare glucose has already been used by being converted to lactic acid to create energy, this sounds well and good but it creates two problems. 1. The lactic acid causes pain and 2. Any spare glucose floating around is now no longer available to generate D-Ribose.

D-ribose is fantastic as a nutritional supplement for people with chronic fatigue syndrome because it is immediately available for the creation of new ATP. This is great news but it is also important to understand that D-Ribose is not going to be a miracle cure for your ME/CFS, it may very well help to alleviate some of your fatigue though.

Here are the results from a study performed where CFS patients were given D-Ribose. It gave an increase in energy to 61.3% of patients. Reference and full notes on study from "ME Association" here.

How much D-Ribose should I take?

D-ribose is a simple sugar which means that it is extremely well absorbed by the body. It has minimal side effects and is well tolerated.

The usual starting dosage for D-Ribose is 1 scoop (5 grams) taken 3 times per day. Effects are usually seen within a week. When you are no longer experiencing improvements and energy gains have plateaued with your D-Ribose supplement, you can look to taper off the initial 3 scoops per day and find what your own personal maintenance dose is, for some it will be one scoop per day and for others it may be more. You may wish to take extra D-Ribose on days where you have more activity than usual to perform. Discuss D-Ribose with your doctor to see if it may be the right supplement for you and how much to take.

Other Benefits Of D-Ribose

D-Ribose May Help Heart Health

picture of hearts

As we know, D-ribose improves ATP/energy in all cells including those in the heart. D-Ribose may help those with heart issues by improving heart function, it also enables patients with heart disease to exercise longer without them experiencing chest pains or ECG changes.

D-Ribose Refills Energy Reserves

D-Ribose is excellent at improving the recovery of energy reserves following after high-intensity exercise or activity. Many athletes use this supplement successfully.

D-Ribose May Help with Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is very annoying, especially when you are trying to get to sleep. D-ribose may help to reduce these symptoms. Be careful not to take D-Ribose clos to bedtime as it may affect your ability to get to sleep.

D-Ribose Improves Muscular Strength

Man lifting weights

Body builders successfully use D-Ribose as a supplement to improve strength and lifting capacity.

Bradley Simmonds

Do you have ME/CFS?

D-Ribose is just one of many treatment options for ME/CFS. Check out this easy to follow ME/CFS resource page which is arguably the best on the net. click here

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