A common example of a pentose is ribose, which is used by the body as a source of energy. This type of sugar is sometimes supplemented to boost athletic performance, and is also used as a medical treatment for a number of conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Pentose sugars are a class of monosaccharides. Monosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate that cannot be reduced to a simpler structure. These types of carbohydrates are commonly called sugars and make food or drink taste sweet.
Monosaccharides are divided into categories depending on how many carbon atoms are contained within the molecule. A pentose monosaccharide contains five carbon atoms, along with a combination of other elements. It also contains 10 hydrogen and five oxygen atoms.
There are a number of other types of pentoses aside from ribose. Xylose, ribulose, arabinose and deoxyribose all contain five carbon atoms and thus are classified as pentoses.
Aside from pentose monosaccharides, there are a range of other groups depending on the number of carbon atoms. Monosaccharides with six carbon atoms, for example, are called hexoses. This group contains important examples such as fructose and glucose. Other groups include trioses, which contain three carbon atoms, and heptoses, which contain seven.