Good Things Come in Small (DNA Kit) Packages
Compared to DNA testing giants, like AncestryDNA and 23andMe, Vitagen-X is quite small. From my experience, it seems like most of the process is managed by its owner, a registered nutritional therapist. Not only is founder Kate Scott writing the blog posts, but she is also answering customer questions about orders and reports.
On the one hand, I love the level of detailed and personalized service – it’s nice to feel like a person, and not just like an order number. On the other hand, I wonder if this is something that the team will be able to maintain as Vitagen-X makes a bigger name for itself. For now, things seem to be running smoothly.
But how do this small company and its health and wellness test packages compare against the heavy hitters that offer health plus ancestry information? Does Vitagen-X offer enough wellness insight, so you’re not missing the extra reports? How does it compete on things like price and customer support?
I’ll share my experience taking three of Vitagen-X’s DNA packages (I didn’t take VitaFEM because, well, that’s just for the ladies). In the next ten minutes or so, you should know whether or not you should be considering a test yourself.
A Simple Test with Only Two Things to Remember
As described on the Vitagen-X website, the test kit contains a cheek swab, so no blood is required. If you’re a UK customer, you’ll also get a prepaid return envelope (everyone else will need to pay out-of-pocket). And it says you can expect to receive your results within three to six weeks of sending your sample to the ISO-accredited laboratory.
Here’s what I received, along with a consent form to fill out:
Swabbing my cheek was simple, and the only things I had to remember were:
- Not to eat, drink, or brush my teeth for an hour before taking the test
- To seal the cheek swab in the RapiDri Pouch using the barcode sticker (and to write the same barcode number on the consent form)
If you order several reports together as a combo, you only have to take the test once.
My results email arrived 23 days from the time I sent in my sample (which would have been exactly three weeks after they received it).
Reading the VitaGEN DNA Report
For this review, I initially only had access to the VitaGEN DNA Report, so I’ll cover this core report first. The results came in three parts: a Summary Email, a personalized DNA-based Diet and Lifestyle Prescription, and a generic Nutrition & Lifestyle Guide. Let’s look at each one in turn.
When I first received my results email, I only saw the textual summary and didn’t notice the attachments, so I thought I was only going to get a set of summary statements like these (with the most notable results shown in bold):
This concise summary is surprisingly useful as a quick guide. And although the names of the specific genes might not mean much to many people, they do give a good indication of what terms to search the internet for, in case you’d like to do a bit more research.
Initially, I wasn’t sure if this summary was written especially for me as a reviewer, rather than being auto-generated like the attached reports. I confirmed with the company’s founder that all customers receive a personally written summary and are eligible for a telephone consultation, too (though this wasn’t indicated in the email).
DNA-Based Diet and Lifestyle Prescription
This document begins with a section on how to read the report. It is then arranged into eight parts (or pillars), which include:
The analyses in those sections are based on 23 genes, which I won’t list individually here for fear of getting way too technical.
Since all the sections are essentially the same in terms of reporting style, I can choose one to demonstrate the principle. So, let’s talk about stress.
First, you’ll see some generic information about stress hormones and the genes that influence your (and my) stress responses:
Then, you’ll see the specific information about which genetic variants you have, what this means, and what you can do to help alleviate any adverse effects:
Bearing in mind that a genetic predisposition doesn’t mean you’ll definitely suffer from a specific condition, I can tell you that the results shown in red definitely align with my personal experiences. Put simply, people often tell me that I need to “take a chill pill.”
Nutrition & Lifestyle Guide
This attachment is not specific to you, and all customers will get the same guide to gut healing, gluten tolerance, candida (yeast), caffeine, complex carbs, and more. Since my summary results had indicated an increased need for vitamin D, I was drawn to this part of the report for advice on what to do and what to eat:
What to Expect from the Other Reports
I pulled some strings as a professional reviewer to get access to two of the other reports that weren’t meant to be included: the ThyroidGEN DNA Report and the male-specific VitaMEN DNA Report. This was a bonus for me, and it’s a bonus for you because I can also tell you about these two reports.
ThyroidGEN DNA Report
The “Thyroid Genetic Panel” report follows pretty much the same format as the core DNA analysis report just discussed. It starts with a section on how to read the report, it continues with generic explanations of thyroid disorders and disruptors, and then it goes on to provide your specific thyroid genotype and advice.
Here is a subset of my results, covering three of the eight analyzed genes:
Reading the results in red shows that it’s the “stress” thing again for me, this time indicated by an additional gene. Now I’m starting to worry! Only joking, because I can start to do something about stress now that I know my genetic predispositions.
VitaMEN DNA Report
The format of the “Male Health Genetic Report” came as no surprise: a section on how to read the report, some generic information about testosterone and other androgens (male hormones), and specific reports for the 15 tested genes.
The following excerpt not only shows how healthy I am expected to be (I won’t show you the rest of the report) but also that one of my genes couldn’t be analyzed. Company founder, Kate, reassured me that there is nothing to worry about, but that “This does happen sometimes if the lab [is] unable to make an accurate call from your sample.”
Scrolling down the report, I was pleasantly surprised to see that, after the testosterone section, the same report pattern – generic explanations followed by my specific results – was repeated for Estrogen, Heart & Vascular Health (with a potentially not-suitable-for-work illustrative picture of a penis), and Healthy Aging.
Vitagen-X’s 5 Standout Features
Any DNA testing company will have its pluses and minuses, but let’s start with what’s good about Vitagen-X.
1. Run By a Registered Nutritionist
The aforementioned founder’s email signature describes her as a director, a nutrigenomics specialist, and a UK-registered nutritional therapist. This means that the company really understands the dietary information that you are likely to care about and – most importantly – you should be in safe scientific hands. It is also nice that the company seems to give so much personalized attention and care to its customers (more on that later).
2. A Package Dedicated to Thyroid Health
When it comes to thyroid health information, most DNA tests (like tellmeGen or EasyDNA) will just include whether or not you have a genetic disposition to Graves’ disease, which is associated with an overactive thyroid. Vitagen-X analyzes eight different genes, and lays out the potential impact and actionable advice based on your results. If you’ve noticed a difference in your weight or energy levels lately, this would be a good test to consider.
3. Reports Specifically for Both Men and Women
For men and women, hormones, bone density, muscle mass, and heart health are influenced by different genes. Sometimes a one-size-fits-all test doesn’t give 100% of the information necessary. By creating separate reports that are specifically designed for both sexes, Vitagen-X ensures that you are only getting the information that is relevant to you and your health. In fact, I haven’t seen another company that does this yet.
4. Significant Bundled Discounts
We have a whole section on price later on in the review, so I won’t spend too much time on it here. However, it is worth noting that one of the things that sets Vitagen-X apart is its bundled package deals, which can save you a significant amount versus if you were to pay for the tests separately. While the tests are on the more expensive side, the reports are quite substantial; a packaged deal will just give you that much more information at a competitive price.
5. Detailed Explanation and Actionable Insight
You might be thinking, “shouldn’t every company provide things like clear reports that are easy to understand?” The short answer is probably yes, but that doesn’t mean it happens. Personal genetics, traits, and predispositions aren’t exactly the easiest topics to explain, and when you have such a large report, important information can sometimes get lost amongst everything else. Vitagen-X strikes a good balance between providing depth and breadth in its reports.
Other Test Kits Available
I took the VitaGEN DNA Report test. Vitagen-X’s other separately available tests are:
- The VitaMEN DNA Report, which analyzes genes that impact male health (e.g., hormone production, bone density, mood and heart health, etc.)
- The VitaFEM DNA Report, which analyzes genes that impact female health (e.g., hormone production, bone density, mood and heart health, etc.)
- The ThyroidGEN DNA Report, which tests for predispositions to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
You can also purchase a Two Report Combo (VitaGEN plus VitaFEM or VitaMEN
or ThyroidGEN) or a Three Report Combo (VitaGEN and ThyroidGEN plus VitaFEM or VitaMEN) to save money.
I confirmed with the company that you can “upgrade” to receive reports that you didn’t originally order without needing to submit another sample.
Similar Tests to Consider
It would also be worth considering bigger, more well-known competitors, such as AncestryDNA. While you will not get the same level of in-depth wellness information, you will discover your genetic predisposition to a number of common health conditions, plus have access to extensive ancestry reports and genealogy resources.
Buy Separately or Save Money with a Combo Report Pack
Vitagen-X offers four different test/report kits – VitaGEN DNA Report, VitaMEN DNA Report, VitaFEM DNA Report, and ThyroidGEN DNA Report – all at the same price.
Since even the direct competitor companies offer slightly different separate tests and combo packs (with occasional discounts), it’s pretty difficult to compare pricing on a like-for-like basis. However, I can tell you that – in general – the prices appear to be a bit higher than the likes of DNAfit and the similarly-named Vitagene.
According to this company’s terms and conditions, its test kits are targeted at UK and European customers, so it doesn’t provide prepaid return envelopes for international customers and doesn’t cover the cost of any customs charges that may be incurred outside the EU.
Pretty Responsive Personal Service
The Vitagen-X website, while simple, looks very professional, and it contains more information than meets the eye. Hint: go to the “ORDER” page, and click the “MORE INFO” button for the test(s) you intend to take.
It’s also worth checking out the blog, which shows that company owner Kate Scott cares a lot about her craft and sharing educational insights with current and prospective customers.
While the website includes a generic email address for general inquiries, you will find Kate’s individual email address just above the online contact form. Well, that was the case when I wanted to contact the company, so I took advantage of talking directly to the director.
My unique use case won’t be directly applicable to you if you’re ordering the test and taking it yourself, but it provided me with a perfect opportunity to test the speed of response. In short: my review test kit was requested by someone else at DNAWeekly, but I would be the one submitting the sample, reading my results, and writing this review. So, for reasons of privacy and data security, I sought assurance that the results would be sent directly to my email address.
I’m happy to say that Kate replied to my email within 30 minutes, which was a pretty impressive response time:
This does highlight one difference between Vitagen-X and many other DNA testing companies: Many companies allow someone to order a test kit to pass on to someone else – e.g., as a gift, or to a client – and it only gets tied to the person taking the test when the kit is registered online. With no online kit registration step, it’s not obvious how (or if) you can purchase a test for someone else, other than by sending an email like I did.
I sent some follow-up questions after receiving my results, which were answered equally promptly to confirm (as stated earlier) that all customers receive a personally written summary and are eligible for a telephone consultation too.
Small Is Beautiful
In many realms, it pays to be cautious about entrusting yourself to the care of a small company with a short track record. I guess that’s a nice way of saying that I was pleasantly surprised with the level of detail and clarity in the reports, and with the support and customer service. I still think it will be interesting to see whether this level of quality remains consistent as the company grows over time – I’ll have to check back in and let you know.
All of the tests provided deep information that left me feeling informed and empowered. I’m not saying that I can necessarily explain my different gene variants to friends and family, but I do understand the steps I can take to improve different areas of my health – and what I should look out for in the future.
So, is a Vitagen-X test right for you? Well, if you are solely focused on information regarding your health and wellness – and you can afford it – I would say yes. If you’re also interested in learning about your ancestry or building your family tree, I’d look into AncestryDNA.
How accurate is Vitagen-X?
Vitagen-X doesn’t make claims about its DNA tests or results interpretations being accurate to a certain percentage, and – in fact – its terms and conditions state that it provides “no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness or completeness of the contents.”
However, the results are based on “the most relevant and recent available scientific research” and the labs that process your DNA are ISO-accredited (which means they meet international standards).
What countries is Vitagen-X available in?
Vitagen-X’s tests are available internationally but are targeted at UK and European customers.
How much does a Vitagen-X test cost?
Each of Vitagen-X’s four individual tests is priced the same at a couple hundred dollars. However, you can save quite a bit of money with a bundled package. For comparison, the cost is about the same (although, maybe a bit higher) as similarly-priced packages from competitors.
How does Vitagen-X compare to better-known competitors?
Compared with bigger competitors such as AncestryDNA or 23andMe, Vitagen-X’s main selling points are its size and the level of personal engagement from the company founder. Since it doesn’t provide ancestry reports, Vitagen-X is more comparable with companies like DNAfit.
Who should consider taking a Vitagen-X test?
You should take the core VitaGEN test if you want DNA-based insights into how to improve your health, as it pertains to digestion, metabolism, stress, immunity, nutrients, stimulants, exercise, and sleep.
Men can take the VitaMEN test to understand how their genes may impact their health (e.g., hormone production, bone density, mood and heart health, etc.). There is a similar VitaFEM test for women. The ThyroidGEN test is applicable to anyone who specifically wants to test for potential hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.