D-ribose is a simple sugar molecular that is a derivative of ATP and involved in the production of cellular energy.
Every cell in the human body slowly produces d-ribose. Liver, fat tissue, and adrenal glands produce the highest levels to meet the production needs of hormones and fatty acids. Heart, brain, nerve, and skeletal muscle only make enough d-ribose to manage day-to-day needs during a normal state of health.
The body is not able to produce high levels of d-ribose quickly when under levels of stress, such as oxygen and blood deficiency connected to heart disease. Any time oxygen or blood flow is compromised the body tissues are not able to produce adequate levels of d-ribose, which leads to a depletion of cellular energy.
Characteristics of individuals at increased risk for a d-ribose deficiency include men and women over the age of 45 showing early signs of cardiac dysfunction, statin drug users, women with mitral valve prolapse, and individuals with high blood pressure and/or heart disease.
Animal studies show that coronary artery disease can reduce ATP levels in the heart up to 50%. Even after blood flow and oxygen are restored it may take a healthy heart up to 10 days to replenish cellular energy levels and restore cardiac function. Studies that provided d-ribose supplementation during the recovery process restored energy and cardiac diastolic function within 2 days.
Studies have also shown individuals with coronary artery disease significantly improve symptoms and treadmill time within one week of being treated with D-ribose.
Red meat contains the highest levels of D-ribose, especially veal. However, the level of D-ribose available from dietary sources is not enough to have an impact if you live with heart disease.
Three Step Process
Determining whether or not you need to supplement D-ribose often requires a 3 step process. Start by supplementing coenzyme Q10. For 85% of heart patients this resolves symptoms of fatigue, weakness, etc. For the 10-15% that do not show improvements add L-carnitine. This may be the missing link. Then again out of the 10-15% a small percent will not show improvements, so this is where D-ribose is added.
Consult your physician to determine if supplementing D-ribose is the right treatment option for your situation and how much you need to supplement.