There are tons of what we call "direct to consumer" genetic testing kits now available on the market. A simple search of "23andme" returns dozens of tests on Amazon.
There are ancestry tests, health risk tests, cancer risk tests, exercise and nutrition tests, likely physical traits and many more.
So how do you choose which test to buy?
Well, that is what this website and blog are all about!
If you have any questions about which tests would help you accomplish your health goals, feel free to reach out.
A few weeks ago I purchased my first two consumer DNA test panels 23andMe - Health + Ancestry ($199) and the Vitagene - Health + Ancestry ($79).
I will be comparing them here to give you an idea if the 23andMe brand was worth the extra $120.
Similarities between the two tests
Both tested an astounding number of genes for the price (around 700!).
They both caught my MTHFR 677 mutation.
They both showed my ancestors primarily lived in Western Europe.
They both had similar (and extremely limited and not useful) information on their website about the "Health and Wellness" part of the test.
They are both very limited by what the FDA allows the "direct-to-consumer" DNA tests to disclose.
For this reason, I recommend speaking to a healthcare provider trained in genetic testing who can help you get the most out of your test results and use them as a guide to create your life long "HEALTH ROADMAP".
Price - Vitagene $79 and 23andMe $199
Information on their site - both had similar (extremely limited) information about Health and Wellness, however I did think Vitagene explained the results a bit better.
Business model - Vitagene's business model seems to be more geared towards selling their supplements. The community of ancestry mapping and genetic reporting seemed to be the focus of the 23andMe site.
I downloaded my raw genetic data from both Vitagene and 23andMe so I could run it through a more advanced gene testing software (see reports below).
The results were similar, but there was some notable differences in the genes being tested.
Both tested COMT, MTHF, MTRR AND NAT genes which all play a role in management of mental health conditions.
Both tested some of the Cytochrome P450 liver enzymes that tell us how well your body can tolerate a drug, but they were limited to just a few genes.
For patients on ADHD or other psychiatric medications, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor or pharmacy for a pharmacogenomic test since neither of the tests focus much on the liver enzymes responsible for breaking down these medications.
You can see the comparison of my results below.
The "red" indicates a potentially harmful mutation to which I am homozygous (received the gene from both parents and is indicated by a +/+).
When it comes down to it, I believe Vitagene provides the best value of any test I've completed so far.
So what is the difference between a direct to consumer test and a pharmacogenomic test?
Pharmacogenomic tests are able to test the specific genes responsible for breaking down ADHD and depression (psychotropic) medications. A simple psychiatric panel can start at $500 per test, but will save countless hours of trying and failing multiple medicines before finding the right fit for you or your child.
A pharmacogenomic test is considered a "class II medical device". This means you'll need a doctor to sign off on the test and the results will be shared with you by a healthcare professional.
If you or you child has already had a genetic test done, we can take the results of that test, put it into a software system and tell you which medications may be more safe and effective based on your genetic profile.
A trained pharmacist or healthcare provider would be able to help you interpret the test and use it to create a "health roadmap" for identifying potentially harmful or beneficial medications throughout your child's life.
If you'd like to discuss setting up a Genetic Consult and getting your Health Roadmap, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and recommendations on how genetic testing can help your healthcare provider choose safer, more effective medications.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an medication therapy management consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is also the founder of Genetic Consults, a program that helps patients understand their genetics and use that information to guide future medical care.
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an independent consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She is also the founder of Genetic Consults, a program that helps patients understand their genetics and use their information to guide future medical care.