Our history always captures our fascination, especially if it is of our ancestors. Ancestry and lineage have been one of the driving forces of human civilization, which is why every individual tries his/her best to preserve the heritage of their ancestors. But the legacy of our ancestors is more than just assets and artifices; the most important part is in our genes.
Genes are known to have a direct impact on our health, and a lot of medical conditions are caused due to no other reason apart from our genes. The genetic information can not only enlighten us about our ancestors but also inform us about our health and any immediate or potential medical risks. Vitagene is one such service that aims to do that. But is it really any effective, or just another scam to loot our money? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Vitagene?
Vitagene is a company that provides supplements and DNA tests for health reports. The Vitagene DNA tests claim to dig into the genetic information of an individual and use it to create a comprehensive report that includes the best diet and fitness plan for the person, along with insights into the current health and any potential health risks.
How does Vitagene work?
There is no clear explanation regarding how Vitagene comes to their conclusions, and the company doesn’t provide one either.
If one has to guess, it seems that the company uses the DNA sample to gather basic genetic information about the person. The questionnaire filled out later gives an insight into the individual, including lifestyle, medical conditions, and health risks. These are mapped against the genetic information to generate a personalized report.
What is contained in the kit?
A standard Vitagene sample collection kit contains:
- Cheek Swab
- Sample container
- Storage sleeve
- Instruction manual
How to avail of the services?
Vitagene has a very clear and direct business model that allows customers to avail their services from the comforts of their home.
- The first step is to purchase the kit. You have to place the order on their official website, after which the sample kit would be shipped to your address within a week. The payment needs to be made in advance.
- Once the kit has arrived, you need to collect the sample. Collecting DNA sample is very easy, and the instructions provided make it even easier.
- With your DNA sample collected and stored, you need to mail it back to the company on the address provided.
- While the sample is processed, you need to fill out a detailed questionnaire that allows the company to give a more accurate report.
- The report is generated in 4-6 weeks, after which it would be available on a dashboard online created specifically for you. You will be notified about it once it is made available.
What are the tests available?
- Health Report and Ancestry
The comprehensive report consists of two parts. The Health Report consists of a detailed analysis of your health, on the basis of your DNA sample and the answers to the questionnaire. There are various sections in that report, like fitness section (to give you a routine of physical activities you must undertake), diet report (the food items you must consume/avoid and why), health risks etc.
The Ancestry report consists of details strictly about your ancestry, made up of ethnic percentages.
- Health Report
This test is almost identical to the previous one as far as the results and the associated details are concerned. The only difference is that a DNA sample kit is not provided to you. You need to upload a raw DNA file on their website. This is particularly useful for people who already have a DNA file ready.
- Wellness Bundle
This test again is similar to the Health and Ancestry test, as far as the test results are concerned. However, the test adds a month of personalized supplement supply for you. These supplements could be chosen online and would be delivered to your address.
- Things you must know
- Vitagene does do not include personal identification details in the raw DNA file, so your ID and DNA details could not be matched by anyone apart from the company itself.
- The company claims to not share your info with any third-party without your explicit consent.
- The services are provided only in the US, though there is an international waiting list under which foreign citizens can apply for the services.
- The cost for mailing a Vitagene Sample to the company must be borne by you.
What are the benefits of Vitagene?
The benefits could be classified into two categories. The benefits of the company are:
- The simplicity of the test without any painful procedures
- Submit the sample from the comforts of your home
- Prices in the same range as other similar services
- Fast processing of the sample and generation of a report within a few weeks
- Utmost value of privacy of the individual and his/her information
- Live chat support for customers whenever they need help
- Raw DNA data generated from the DNA sample, which would be made available to you.
- An interactive website along with easy UI for the users
On the other hand, the benefits of the test are:
- Complete details about your ethnic makeup, including the percentages of each ethnicity.
- A personalized report made for you
- Easy classification of the report into sections that cover every aspect of your health
- Recommendations that are given by industry experts about your health, fitness, and diet
- Warnings about any potential health risk or trigger
What are the drawbacks of Vitagene?
The biggest drawback of Vitagene is its apparent inability to combine genetic information with the health report.
The comprehensive report looks very appealing and contains a lot of data. Most of that data is useful and contains valid insights and suggestions. However, a majority of that data is derived from the questionnaire you filled online, which is something any doctor could do at 1/10th of the price.
The health report contains elements that look vague at times with no correlation to your own conditions, giving an impression that they are simply following a template like the free online services. This gives a blow to their claim of “providing personalized results”.
The only relevance that the DNA sample seems to have is in the ancestry report, which tells you about your ethnic composition. However, there are many websites, like Ancestry.com, that provide the same service at a lower price.
The report tries to mention few insights gained from your DNA sample but utterly fails to explain the “how”. In other words, you simply have to take their word regarding what your DNA says about health, without any satisfying explanation.
Verdict on Vitagene
Vitagene works. The results it provides are valid and scientifically-sound. For $99 you can get a detailed overview of your health history and much more. Highly recommended.
Thomas Matthys a former world-class track & field athlete and the founder of Swol Headquarters. He graduated from the University of Fordham with a Master’s degree in Science. Matthys is a certified sports nutritionist and personal coach of several professional athletes. Matthys has been involved in various clinical studies within Track & Field including one on the factors associated with muscle recovery and HIIT.