Vitagene is one of the newer direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies, founded in 2015 by neurosurgeon Reza Malek. The company strives to empower individuals to make more informed lifestyle choices by capturing and analyzing their genetic information. Vitagene currently focuses on nutrition and fitness, but it will likely expand its test offerings in the future.
- Vitagene’s DNA tests are relatively cost-effective, less expensive than those of other test providers.
- Vitagene gives you a personalized list of recommended supplements based on the information contained within your DNA and the report it compiles.
- Vitagene can take data from other DNA test companies, including 23andMe and Ancestry, and generate a report at a reduced cost.
- Vitagene reports tell you the precise region of your DNA associated with a particular finding, meaning you can do your own research into the topic if you choose.
- The health and lifestyle advice given in your unique report is sometimes generic, common-sense advice that most people should follow regardless of the information in one’s genes.
- Unlocking the diet-related information in our DNA has a lot of benefits but simplifying it to inform actual lifestyle choices and vitamins purchases is challenging.
- Currently, Vitagene only ships its tests within the United States. Would-be international orders are put on a waitlist.
If you are looking for a cost-effective way to find out some basic information about how your genes influence your health and exercise outcomes, then Vitagene likely has a test for you. This is especially true if you are interested in actionable information to help you meet diet or fitness goals and want to make more informed choices. However, as with most health-related DNA tests, you have to take all recommendations with a grain of salt.
Vitagene Rating by Innerbody Staff
Vitagene basically offers five different types of “reports,” or information sections, in its testing results. Below are brief summaries of the reports currently available. Not all testing options offered for sale have all reports. (We will help you learn more about which tests contain which reports, along with pricing info, in the next section of this guide.)
The Diet Report contains information about how your genes could influence different aspects of food metabolism. This includes potential food sensitivities, whether you’re likely to struggle to metabolize different compounds, and how your genetics could affect your relationship with food. This report also includes gluten sensitivity, lactose sensitivity, saturated fat level, and more.
The Supplement Report reveals your genetic risk for having certain nutrient deficiencies and gives advice on how you could address these to improve your overall nutritional health. You will also receive personalized recommendations as to which supplements the company would recommend (and of course Vitagene would love you to purchase them via its online store).
The Fitness Report includes information on your likely response to exercise based on your genetics. It also gives you the type of exercise that you are likely to be skilled at or have an affinity for, for example power vs endurance exercise. Other are areas in this report include: ability to build muscle, muscle cramping tendency, weight response to exercise, and an interactive workout planner.
The Ancestry Report gives you percentages representing the amount of your DNA that comes from a particular region, as well as an interactive map. This report is nowhere near as detailed as those offered by 23andMe or Ancestry DNA, but it is interesting and offers nice bonus information for those primarily interested in diet and fitness-related information.
The Skin Report gives you your genetic risks for a collection of skin traits and conditions, such as tanning, acne, eczema, freckles, and dry skin. The report also includes skincare recommendations based on this information.
While the names of each report are pretty straightforward, the names of the testing products available to purchase are not. But don’t worry, we are here to help.
If this is your first DNA test, you have three testing options:
The Health + Ancestry Report
The Health + Ancestry Report [see latest price] is the entry level test that includes all the reports listed above EXCEPT for the Skin Report. So this option includes the Diet Report, the Supplement Report, the Fitness Report, and the Ancestry Report.
The Premium Report
The vaguely named Premium Report [see latest price] includes all of the reports mentioned thus far, including the Skin Report. The Skin Report costs a little bit more to upgrade to “premium.”
The Vitality Bundle
The Vitality Bundle [see latest price], like the Premium Report, will give all access to all the reports: Diet, Supplement, Fitness, Skin, and Ancestry. However, this option also includes a 3 month supply of 8 personalized “smart” supplements based on your results.
Now if you have already taken an DNA test from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, or Family Tree DNA, you have two less expensive testing options that enable you to utilize your previous testing results. Your two options are:
The Health Reports [see latest price] option, as the name hints, is essentially the basic “Health + Ancestry Report” described above, minus the Ancestry report. So you would get the Diet, Supplement, and Fitness reports. The idea being that you would have already received detailed Ancestry information from your previous test.
The Vigor Bundle [see latest price] option will give you access to all the informational reports in the Health Reports product above plus the “Skin Report” and the a 3-month supply of 8 personalized smart supplements based on your results. Or in other words, this is the Vitality Bundle minus the Ancestry report.
The test that we would recommend essentially comes down to 2 or 3 questions that you need to ask yourself: Have you taken a previous DNA test from one of Vitagene’s testing partners? And do you want to try a 3-month supply of personalized supplements?
- If you have not previously taken a DNA test previously and don’t want to purchase supplements, then we recommend the simple Health + Ancestry Report (or the Premium Report if you must have the Skin Report and don’t mind paying an additional money for it).
- If you have not previously taken a DNA test previously and want to try the supplements, then the Vitality Bundle would be right for you.
- If you have already have taken a DNA test and don’t want to try the personalized supplements, then the Health Reports option is what we would recommend.
- If you have already taken a DNA test and want to try the supplements, then the Vigor Bundle is the option for you.
After you have placed your order, your kit will arrive in 3-5 days. You will also be asked to complete Vitagene’s questionnaire after your purchase. Like many other tests on the market, your Vitagene DNA test requires a cheek swab. Once you receive your kit, follow the instructions on how to swab the inside of your cheek to ensure you collect a good quality sample. Your order will come with a pre-paid return envelope, and in 3-4 weeks your results will be available to view.
The labs at Vitagene follow the standards of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and College of American Pathologists (CAP), so you know that your results are quality assured. A common worry with genetic data is how it is kept secure and private from others. Vitagene does this by storing DNA samples anonymously, discarding your DNA sample after it has been analyzed, and not sharing or selling your DNA with a third party unless you have given your consent for your DNA to be used in scientific research.
There are many available direct-to-consumer DNA tests on the market that offer to give you a breakdown of some of the interesting features associated with the sequence of your DNA. Different companies focus on different features, including risk of disease, likelihood of having particular physical traits, ancestry tests, and how you are likely to respond to different drugs. Vitagene differentiates itself by focusing exclusively on nutrition and fitness.
Vitagene, like the other testing companies, analyzes SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which are a very common type of genetic variation among people in a population. SNPs occur when one letter of the DNA sequence is replaced with another one. Scientists have conducted extensive research associating this genetic variation with different traits and diseases, and susceptibility to many diseases has been associated with one or more SNPs. Usually, there is a preset list of SNPs known to be associated with certain conditions or traits that these companies test for.
Some companies assess more of your DNA. For example, the DNA testing company Helix DNA collects around 100 times more data, using a technique called exome sequencing. Exome sequencing looks within the regions of your genes that make proteins. You can even get your whole genome sequenced now by companies such as Veritas Genetics. However, these services are much more costly.
The unique selling point of Vitagene is its provision of an individually tailored action plan around your diet, exercise, and supplementation. Similar companies include DNAFit and Fitness Genes which offer meal and fitness regime planning based on the results in your report.
One criticism of Vitagene is that it sometimes overstates or misleads the reader as to the meaning of the results in its reports. For example, in a report where an individual has a variant associated with gluten intolerance (rs2187668), the results read “Gluten - likely intolerant” and suggest someone with this SNP should choose gluten-free grains and use digestion supplements. While virtually everyone with celiac disease has this SNP, the vast majority of people with the SNP do not have gluten intolerance. Thus, the results of the genetic test are largely misrepresented.
If you have made it this far through our review, you may still not be convinced or be looking for something more. If you do happen to want both more detailed ancestry and health information based on your DNA, albeit a bit less focused on nutrition, 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry Service may be your best bet.