The sports energy supplement d ribose has been shown to be "probably not effective" at enhancing sports performance. Larger doses administered to heart attack and angina patients have, however, shown signs of increased energy. And with no known side effects, it may enhance mental function.
D ribose powder is generally marketed to sports enthusiasts and athletes as a way to reduce fatigue. But the promoters’ claims that the supplement increases ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy and improves stamina have little supporting scientific evidence, and some studies have even shown ribose to have no effect on sporting performance.
Fortunately, there are no known side effects of taking supplements of this vital carbohydrate, and it may enhance mental function, though further studies are needed to confrim this possibility.
So in healthy adults, the use of d-ribose powder alone may not be effective. However, studies have shown that ATP levels in the heart returned to normal more quickly in patients given d ribose powder. Angina sufferers, along with those with congestive heart failure also benefited from improved heart function and exercise tolerance.
And whilst d-ribose alone has not been proved to be effective in increasing energy in healthy people, it hasn’t been proved ineffective either, with much wider study being needed to swing the pendulum either way. Also, the majority of promoters suggest taking d ribose in combination with other supplements, namely magnesium, L-carnitine and CoQ 10.
Magnesium is vital for a healthy diet. Deficiency is relatively common, and can lead to asthma, osteoporosis, and ADHD. L-carnitine is an antioxidant marketed as an aid to weight loss, though these claims too are dubious. It is however, of possible benefit to those with type two diabetes. CoQ 10 is an oil soluble vitamin used to create energy which is also used as a dietary supplement, though again supporting scientific evidence is thin on the ground.
Whilst scientific support for these supplements is ambiguous at best, anecdotal evidence suggests that when used in conjunction they are effective. Perhaps what is needed is scientific research combining these supplements. In the meantime, the potential side benefits of d-ribose suggest that supplementation in this case is no bad thing, especially since there are no natural food sources.