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Toolbox Genomics Review: Can this DNA testing help you improve your health?

We evaluated Toolbox Genomics’ genetic tests and subscription service. Find out if testing could help you.

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Toolbox Genomics review

Over 26 million people in the United States have taken at-home DNA tests. Many have used tests like 23andMe and AncestryDNA to learn more about their heritage, but genetic testing can also be used as a tool to learn more about your health.

Toolbox Genomics is one such DNA-testing company, based in California. One clue about the uniquely strong health focus of this company is that many customers end up taking a Toolbox Genomics test after being referred to it by their healthcare provider.

As an added convenience, you can order a DNA test from Toolbox Genomics on your own. This review, based on our own testing and analysis of the company and its products, shares all of the pertinent details so you can decide if you should buy a test to learn more about your health.

Review Summary

Pros

  • Genetic testing that focuses completely on health, with the optional collaboration of your physician
  • Provides robust results on specific health areas, such as cognitive functioning and nutrition optimization
  • Toolbox Genomics goes beyond DNA testing by providing epigenetic testing as well
  • Includes actionable, personalized steps on how to improve your health based on specific genetic and epigenetic results
  • Toolbox Genomics partners only with highly accurate, CLIA/CAPP-certified labs
  • Insights are based on reputable scientific research, all of which is easily found on their website

Cons

  • Subscription requires a financial commitment toward improving your wellbeing
  • Epigenetics tests take time for results (about 6-8 weeks)

Bottom line

We highly recommend Toolbox Genomics if you’re looking for a DNA test provider that can deliver valuable, science-backed health and wellness insights based on your genetics and epigenetics. Toolbox Genomics offers tests that examine your genome and epigenome to learn more about a variety of health implications, from cardiometabolic health to weight management. You can easily share and discuss your results with your physician in order to make appropriate nutritional or lifestyle changes. You can also discuss results that may have more serious implications, such as a predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease or certain cancers.

Our Top Picks

Toolbox Genomics

Testing with Toolbox Genomics gives you powerful insights into how your genetics and lifestyle can affect your health.

When you test and subscribe to Toolbox Genomics, you’ll be able to benefit from insights that are actionable. Find out how your diet, exercise, sleep, and other factors affect your biological age, vision, hearing, and memory.

Why you should trust us

Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20th anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.

We extensively test each health service we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: Would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?

Additionally, this review of Toolbox Genomic, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

How Toolbox Genomics works

Toolbox Genomics focuses on health and wellness throughout all of its genetic tests and services. The company is somewhat unique in how it works; there are two ways in which you might benefit from the company’s services:

  1. As a consumer purchasing genetic tests directly from Toolbox Genomics in order to learn more about your body and health.

  2. As a patient whose healthcare provider facilitates the testing to address specific health goals or concerns.

When you purchase tests yourself, which is a great convenience and the primary focus of this review, you can also very easily share the test results with your healthcare provider. Toolbox Genomics stands out among competitors by being both a testing partner with your healthcare provider as well as a direct-to-consumer test provider that makes it so easy to share your results when you test on your own.

If you are interested in testing, then there’s no better time than the present. Toolbox Genomics tests help you discover what your DNA and epigenetics can tell you about your health and what you might do to improve it. Toward this end, Toolbox Genomics offers three test kits:

  • DNA Test
  • Epigenetics Test
  • Epigenetics + DNA Test

You can either purchase a one-time test and its resultant report or buy a test along with an Epigenetics subscription. Subscribing reduces the cost of testing, which is good because subscribers will want to re-test in order to discover how their actions are positively affecting their epigenetic test results.

Does Toolbox Genomics protect my privacy?

Toolbox Genomics is unrivaled when it comes to commitment to privacy. Your information is protected by industry-standard security methods. They do not share your data with any third party (except your practitioner). They also don’t use the data for any other research or commercial interests. They might use your anonymized data in house, which helps them improve their algorithms. You can also delete your data at any time.

What is “epigenetics” and how does it relate to DNA?

At this point, you may very well be wondering what epigenetics is. DNA testing is complicated enough, so let’s break this down a bit.

DNA is your genetic code. It is what you inherited from your parents in order for your entire body to function, for cells to replicate – essentially, for you to be “you” as an organism. It’s often considered a blueprint for how your body functions by default.

Epigenetics, which literally means “on top of genetics”, is the term for all of the chemical compounds that mark your genetic code over time and affect the expression of your genes. It turns your genes off and on. Your genetic code (DNA) is what makes up your genome. Epigenetic compounds, meanwhile, comprise your epigenome.

While some epigenetic modifications can actually be inherited as well, what makes the epigenome so rewarding to study in an ongoing fashion is that various environmental factors and lifestyle choices shape your epigenome, affecting your health and longevity in profound ways. Stress management, nutritional choices, sleep quality, fitness level, exposure to pollutants, and many other factors contribute to your epigenetics. While we can’t really do anything about the genome we inherited, we can take action to alter our epigenome. This is truly exciting, next-level health testing.

Toolbox Genomics tests and pricing

In terms of tests, Toolbox Genomics offers three different at-home genetic testing options:

  • The DNA Test
  • The Epigenetics Test
  • The Epigenetics + DNA Test

That final package kit conveniently combines the two tests into one order for a great value.

When you purchase a test, you also gain access to the Toolbox Genomics app, which is where you’ll be able to register your kit, view results, share results with your doctor, and track epigenetic changes over time when you retest.

DNA Test

The DNA Test ($199) from Toolbox Genomics satisfies your desire to learn what your genetic code can tell you about your health. After the labs have processed your results, Toolbox Genomics relies on the latest scientific research and evidence in order to deliver information across 16 different health predisposition traits:

  • Immunity
  • Health
  • Diet
  • Vitamins
  • Physical
  • Psychology
  • Supplement Response
  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Anti-Aging
  • Mental Health
  • Gut Health
  • Muscle Health
  • Eye Health
  • Skin Health
  • Injury Risk

Included in your test results report will be personalized advice about meal planning, fitness routines, and nutritional supplements for you to consider adding to your regimen.

Epigenetics Test

Toolbox Genomics’ Epigenetics Test costs $249 as a one-time test or $199 with an Epigenetics subscription. Using your saliva sample, Toolbox Genomics provides a detailed report about your epigenome, focusing on the following actionable insights:

  • Biological age
  • Eye age
  • Hearing health
  • Memory
  • Inflammation

If you start a subscription with Toolbox Genomics (an option as you checkout), this Epigenetic testing will allow you to measure environmental and lifestyle impacts in your life and track changes in your DNA expression as you incorporate healthy lifestyle changes.

Epigenetics + DNA Test

The Epigenetics + DNA Test packs the most value and learning potential, at a price of $299 for a one-time test or $249 if you include an Epigenetics Subscription. The collection process is exactly the same as with the other two test options – saliva collection in a tube – and includes all of the data insights and recommendations from the two separate tests.

HSA, FSA, and health insurance

Unfortunately, the tests offered by Toolbox Genomics are not currently covered by insurance providers. However, you may be eligible for reimbursement through your HSA or FSA, as long as your doctor provides a letter of medical necessity.

Epigenetics Subscription

While purchasing either the Epigenetics Test or the Epigenetics + DNA Test, you’ll have the option of subscribing. This Epigenetics Subscription reduces the price of the test while introducing a monthly fee that varies depending on the duration of your subscription. If this sounds overly complicated, what’s really at play here is a question of how often you would like to retest.

  • If you’d like to retest every year, you purchase the 12-month subscription for $18 per month.
  • If you want to retest every 6 months, then the 6-month subscription will be your choice at $34 per month.
  • If you choose to retest quarterly, you’ll opt for the 3-month subscription at $65 per month.

When it comes to epigenetic testing, there is a definite value in periodic retesting because your epigenome isn’t a static thing. Its composition is largely a result of lifestyle decisions and coping strategies that we may be able to improve. Epigenetics test results, therefore, are very actionable. By making changes to the lifestyle factors that are within our control, we may affect our epigenetics in ways that improve our wellbeing and longevity.

In our opinion, you could think of the Epigenetics Subscription as a commitment to improving your wellbeing. In the same way that we all periodically get blood drawn during a doctor’s visit in order to check cholesterol, blood glucose, and white blood cell levels (among many other values), the Epigenetics Subscription is an investment that you can make in order to take positive action based on the results. When you retest, you measure your improvements.

Toolbox Genomics’ tests are accurate and their insights are based on the latest and most reliable scientific research. From our testing, we recommend starting with the yearly or 6-month subscription if you can afford the commitment.

Is Toolbox Genomics accurate and reliable?

You can trust in the accuracy of Toolbox Genomics genetic testing results because the company partners only with CLIA/CAPP-certified labs. These labs are extremely accurate, with a more than 98% call rate.

The science

An important feature of Toolbox Genomics is that their action plans and insights are based on reliable scientific research. As a company, they are also highly transparent about the research studies that they rely on to make their claims. They point you towards research papers and areas you are interested in exploring further.

Additionally, Toolbox Genomics does not make sweeping generalizations about what they are investigating. They consider various factors of the studies, including the ethnicity and gender of the individuals tested, and only extrapolate relevant findings to you.

Toolbox Genomics also only uses high-quality studies that have been performed on humans. They do not use studies conducted on model organisms, such as mice, and then extrapolate them to humans.

We believe you can be reassured that the insights are in line with the most robust, current scientific evidence.

Testing with Toolbox Genomics

Getting started with Toolbox Genomics is very straightforward, though the website is a little clunky at times. Here are the steps.

Step 1: Choose your test

You have three options – the DNA Test, the Epigenetics Test, and the combination Epigenetics + DNA Test. Simply add your choice to your shopping cart.

Step 2: Decide whether you want to subscribe

Your choice depends on your desire to retest and affects the price of testing. If you subscribe, you’ll be adding a monthly fee to your credit card charges. The size of the monthly fee also depends on your subscription level (12-month retesting, 6-month retesting, or 3-month retesting).

Step 3: Enter your payment and contact information

There are no surprises, just a standard online shopping experience from here onward. You do need to pay a shipping fee, though your postage for returning your test sample will be prepaid.

Step 4: Receive your test kit and collect your sample

Regardless of which test package you chose, your kit will be a simple saliva test kit that contains a plastic tube, plastic funnel, and instruction card. Be sure to read the instructions carefully.

Step 5: Collect your saliva sample

The funnel fastens onto the tube in order to make collecting easier. Follow the instructions to collect 4mL of saliva into the tube.

Step 6: Register your kit!

This is very important. Your saliva tube and instruction card both feature your kit ID number. You must use that number in order to register your kit via the Toolbox Genomics app prior to them receiving and processing your sample. (Otherwise, you’ll have to collect a new sample.)

Step 7: Examine your test results and insights

If you choose the DNA Test, your results will be available in about 4 weeks, while Epigenetics Test results will take 6-8 weeks. You can view your results in the app or download them as a PDF for viewing and printing. Once you’ve had a chance to review your results, the Toolbox Genomics app makes it very easy to share them with your healthcare provider as well.

Because epigenetics testing insights are really actionable, your Toolbox Genomics subscription and retesting plans will allow you to measure what affects your dietary, stress management, sleep, exercise, and/or environmental changes have had on your epigenome and rate of biological aging.

How we evaluate health services and products

At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For health-related products and services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:

Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) and product(s) to the customer? For testing services, does the company adhere to the latest and most advanced testing technologies and achieve a very high degree of accuracy? For non-testing telehealth services, is the quality of the service and/or product high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?

User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?

Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?

Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?

Customer support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?

Toolbox Genomics services via healthcare professionals

When healthcare professionals work with Toolbox Genomics on your behalf, the company uses a combination of genetic data and a questionnaire to generate a Health Action Plan for you. The Health Action Plan provides insights into a patient’s genetic health status and recommends steps you can take to reach your goals, including advice on lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, supplements, and more.

Health Action Plans are based on your genetic data and formed by healthcare professionals. The data drives decisions on what to include in the program based on validity, usefulness, and a patient’s ability to implement changes. Therefore, you can be assured that you get relevant and useful information from the report.

The advice in the Health Action Plans is at times both beneficial and also general. It can strike a patient as somewhat repetitive, but this is often because the same good advice applies broadly to multiple health concerns. Toolbox Genomics crafts its action plan reports using the best scientific research but also with the understanding that you are going to review test results and plans with your healthcare provider who ordered the test, augmenting the plans together.

Sample collection and pricing

Your practitioner would handle the ordering process and select the correct product in this case. Health practitioners can even request a custom panel of DNA markers that should be tested.

When a healthcare professional orders a test on your behalf, the first Toolbox Genomics panel will cost a little over $150, while additional panels each cost a little over $50 (since they already collected your DNA). Ordering multiple panels simultaneously can bring the individual cost down more. If you are only interested in one particular health-related insight via genetic testing, this path could save you a little money compared to ordering the DNA Test online yourself. However, for what it offers you, the DNA Test sold directly to you is a much better value.

Products

Toolbox Genomics’ products via healthcare providers fall into two categories:

Products offered only through licensed healthcare practitioners (HealthcarePro) Products offered through wellness professionals (WellnessPro)

Healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, are qualified to purchase HealthcarePro products and WellnessPro products. However, other wellness professionals – such as dietitians, health coaches, trainers, nutritionists, and RNs – can only purchase HealthcarePro products.

Toolbox Genomics has a variety of panels that suit the specific needs of each client, some of which are available only to HealthcarePro accounts. These “panels” are part of multigene panel testing, which allows people to learn about multiple inherited mutations at the same time. Available panels include:

  • Respiratory Resilience Panel
  • Nutrition Optimization Panel
  • Cardiometabolic Panel
  • Cognitive Panel
  • Detox Panel
  • Endurance Performance Panel
  • Energy/Fatigue Panel
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) Panel
  • Health Enrichment Panel
  • Hormone Panel
  • Immune Panel
  • Weight Management Panel

Respiratory Resilience Panel

The respiratory resilience panel is available through both WellnessPro and HealthcarePro and appears to have been created in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic. This panel analyzes 11 traits, all related to respiratory health and wellness. Within these traits, they test an impressive 57 genes and a total of 74 variable markers (SNPs) within these genes. The panel focuses on the risk factors for decreased immune response, nutrition, inflammation, and oxidative stress. These include genes involved in vitamin biosynthesis, as well as inflammation and oxidative stress markers.

In the Health Action Plan, Toolbox Genomics gives unique recommendations created to support you during times of stress and increased viral exposure. This panel could be useful if you are especially concerned about catching or getting very ill with Covid-19. However, many of the tests within this panel are also available in other Toolbox Genomics products.

Nutrition Optimization Panel

As both a WellnessPro and a HealthcarePro product, the nutrition optimization panel identifies your diet and nutritional needs according to your genetics. This panel examines 20 different traits, taking information from 67 SNPs across 39 genes. These include genes essential for vitamin biosynthesis, alcohol metabolism, caffeine metabolism, lactose tolerance, and many others.

The results can empower you to achieve optimal nutrition status based on your genes, including any potential predispositions to deficiencies. The health action report also provides a personalized nutrition plan based on variation in genes linked to metabolism and possible nutrient deficiencies.

Cardiometabolic Panel

This panel test is only available as a HealthcarePro product. It analyzes 8 traits across 72 genes, assessing variation in 106 SNPs associated with cardiovascular and metabolic health. It also searches for variation in genes linked to a predisposition for coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, inflammation, and other heart diseases.

The results include personalized diet, health, and lifestyle suggestions. However, the recommendations include themes like getting proper sleep and the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, which are important considerations regardless of genetics. The Health Action Plan also consists of supplements that could be helpful for your health and steps you can take to avoid cardiometabolic diseases. For example, they may suggest intermittent fasting as a way to achieve your health goals.

Cognitive Panel

The cognitive panel is another product only available with HealthcarePro, and it analyzes genetic variation in genes associated with cognitive issues. It examines a whopping 155 variable genetic regions across 103 genes associated with 10 traits. These traits include diseases related to the brain and cognition, including Alzheimer’s disorder, anxiety, depression, and dementia, as well as more general features such as inflammation.

The results can empower you to make changes to your diet and lifestyle that minimize your risk of developing relevant disorders. In this action report, the insights and recommendations are sensible but also somewhat general. For example, the report suggests increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables to get plenty of antioxidants, managing early depressive symptoms, taking up activities such as meditation and exercise, reducing sleep disturbances, and reducing stress. All of these steps contribute to better overall health, regardless of genetics.

Detox Panel

The detox panel is both a WellnessPro and a HealthcarePro product. It analyses variation at 79 regions in 27 genes linked to 17 traits associated with “detoxification”.

This panel detects the variation of genes associated with cell metabolism, which is how efficiently your cells break down compounds. For example, one of the traits it assesses is estrogen metabolism. Poor estrogen metabolism can be linked to hormone imbalances, which can contribute to overall health and wellbeing. The panel also looks at how well your body makes glutathione, an important antioxidant in the body that clears compounds that can contribute to oxidative stress.

Endurance Performance Panel

The endurance performance panel, available for both WellnessPro and HealthcarePro users, analyzes variation associated with 24 traits linked to endurance performance. This test is particularly applicable to endurance athletes. However, it could be useful for anyone interested in improving their fitness, exercise abilities, or performance in sports. This test looks at 40 different genes and 85 SNPs within these genes. The associated traits are broad. They include your muscle fiber type, predisposition to tendon injury or muscle damage, weight and fat loss in response to exercise, VO2 max, synthesis of vitamins, caffeine metabolism, and exercise endurance.

The findings indicate what nutrients you need most and also give advice on how to avoid injury (which is likely to be fairly general advice). Interestingly, the report can even give insights into psychological factors such as motivation to exercise.

Energy/Fatigue Panel

The Energy/Fatigue panel is a HealthcarePro-only panel that examines genes linked to energy levels. It analyzes variation at 85 SNPs at 60 genes associated with 10 traits, including factors related to energy levels, such as stress, inflammation, and oxidative stress. The panel even tests variations in genes linked with fatigue disorders (like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia) and chronic pain (like migraines, arthritis, and musculoskeletal pain).

The results can uncover the potential causes of fatigue. They can also provide steps for reducing inflammation and managing stress to help improve energy levels.

Gastrointestinal (GI) Panel

Another product only available as a HealthcarePro product, the GI panel examines 114 SNPs in 54 genes associated with 5 traits. These traits are Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammation. The report generated from these findings gives dietary tips that can improve your overall GI health and minimize inflammation, which often contributes to worsening symptoms.

Health Enrichment Panel

The health enrichment panel is both a HealthcarePro and WellnessPro product. It provides information about 21 traits across 36 genes, looking at variation in 78 SNPs. This test covers many bases, including predisposition to obesity, muscle fiber type, caffeine metabolism, heart health, and genes linked with vitamin synthesis, sleep impairment, and stress response.

The Health Action Plan provides personalized information about general health optimization such as customized weight management, health, and exercise regimes based on an individual’s genetics.

Similar to the cognitive panel, the information appears to be generally ‘good’ advice, like avoiding slipping into a sedentary lifestyle, improving diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress.

Hormone Panel

Another HealthcarePro-only product, the hormone panel looks at 7 traits across 22 genes, analyzing 40 SNPs within those genes. The report provides insights into how you produce, circulate, and metabolize hormones, such as cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. The Health Action Plan for this test indicates how lifestyle and dietary changes can help to regulate hormone levels and reduce stress.

Immune Panel

The immune panel -– which is also a HealthcarePro-only product -– analyzes 120 SNPs across 98 genes to give insights into 5 traits associated with autoimmune diseases. These diseases include Hashimoto’s disease (a thyroid disorder), multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis. The health report includes actionable insights, such as changing your diet to reduce inflammation and decrease the workload of the immune system.

Weight Management Panel

It turns out that your genes can contribute to your success in maintaining a healthy weight. The weight management panel is both a HealthcarePro and WellnessPro product. This test examines variation at 45 SNPs across 22 genes that contribute to 16 traits.

The results include your predisposition towards obesity, how exercise is likely to contribute to fat loss, and how you respond to saturated fat. The Health Action Plan also tells you about psychological factors that contribute to weight management, such as genetic variation linked with snacking and hunger pangs. The report also provides information about how your genetics are likely to impact sleep habits and quality of sleep as well as stress.

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