For many months I have been thinking about doing 23andMe genetic testing. Or any genetic testing in general for that matter. There are many companies that test DNA for many different reasons.
A few years ago 23andMe was focused on the connection between health and genetics. They also offered a lot of information on genealogy. In 2013 the FDA stopped 23andMe from providing health results, or “diagnoses” as they saw it. It took almost two years for the FDA and 23andMe to come to an agreement on what they could and could not share with their customers.
At this time, there are some health results available directly from 23andMe. They have a pretty good system for genealogy and connecting with distant cousins, etc. You are also able to download your raw genetic data (a file of just the scientific codes assigned to each gene) to run through third-party companies. These companies can provide incredible results.
Why did I decide to have my DNA analyzed?
Here and there I have mentioned my health battles, trying to heal my leaky gut. I have yet to go into great detail about it, well because I’m not sure how to just yet. A few years ago I discovered a wonderful Functional Medicine Practitioner. At my first appointment, she requested a rather large batch of blood work (14 vials!!!). Part of that batch tested me for the two most common variations of the MTHFR gene mutation.
A few years ago I discovered a wonderful Functional Medicine Practitioner. At my first appointment, she requested a rather large batch of blood work (14 vials!!!). Part of that batch tested me for the two most common variations of the MTHFR gene mutation.
The results are in… I don’t have MTHFR C677T… BUT… I am homozygous (two copies … one from Mom and one from Dad) for MTHFR A1298C. OK, cool. I guess I’ll take my fancy, methylated B vitamins and that’s that.
About a year and change went by before I really started to wonder about this MTHFR thing. I wasn’t feeling any better, so I decided I needed to look into this and maybe manage it a bit better. What I learned was quite scary, overwhelming, and amazing.
I can become quite obsessive when my mind is set on something, so I set out to learn everything I could about what MTHFR means for me, my body, and my healing.
On several occasions, I found myself on Dr. Ben Lynch’s website, mthfr.net. From what I understand, he is one of the top MTHFR experts on the internet. One article from his website, about managing MTHFR, highly recommended doing 23andMe testing. So I shifted my obsessive researching to genetic testing.
My research concluded that 23andMe was the most cost-effective, consumer service available for what I was looking for. But the argument with the FDA was discouraging and left me nervous about spending so much money on something I wasn’t 100% sure I could trust, rely on, or totally benefit from.
It was many months later, after putting a hold on that research adventure, that I joined Dr. Axe’s Healing Leaky Gut Program. Included in that program was access to a private gut healing Facebook support group. I took my MTHFR questions to that group page. On several occasions, it was suggested that I do 23andMe. Once again my obsessive researching took off.
This time, it led me to Sterling Hill of mthfrsupport.com. We had an incredible phone conversation about how crucial it can be to know your own DNA. She helped me to understand that there are several possible gene mutations that can interfere with the MTHFR mutation and create kind of a perfect storm (wich was what I felt was going on with my body) .
Sterling sold me! After all that time I finally decided to do it!
I bought the kit!
After I ordered my test I was so excited to receive my results. I was constantly checking my 23andMe account, Looking for this image:
I also searched Google high and low for any indication of how long each step of testing would take. There weren’t any good answers. Some people received their results in a few weeks. Some took the average, estimated amount of time, and other had to wait even longer.
Since I didn’t have much luck finding the answers I wanted, I decided to create a timeline of my wait for the next person wondering:
Day 1: Purchased kit online.
Day 3: Kit mailed.
Day 5: Kit received and registered online.
Day 6: Mailed the kit back.
Day 11: Box logged in at lab, quality inspection started
Day 21: DNA Extraction
Day 27: DNA Analysis
Day 28: Quality review, Initial Raw Data Processing
Day 32: Woke up to an email saying my results were in!
Because I was so anxious and excited, this process felt like it took about 4X longer!
The Results Are In!
I learned a LOT from just the results available on 23andMe’s site. I have two copies of the lactose intolerant gene. (I was diagnosed with a low lactase enzyme count via endoscopy several years ago, at the beginning of my health struggles.)
I am more likely to have a sweet tooth. YEP!! It’s a Fox thing.
I can also smell asparagus metabolite in my pee.
23andMe was pretty spot on with my appearance too: Most likely to have brown eyes, no dimples, no unibrow, light-colored, wavy hair, ring finger longer than the index finger and light skin. Cool!
Even though most of the genealogical stories that have been passed down on both my parent’s sides are French/German, my DNA is actually more British/Irish. I also have a smidge of Asian/Native American in me too!
Third Party Analysis Programs
There are many companies who offer more in-depth analysis programs for your raw data. The few that I came across that look pretty good are:
Athletigen: A sport focused program. It explains how your body and mind react to athletic activities. It gave me recommendations like yoga, hip strengthening, and get more omega-3s. I can agree with all of those. I didn’t need to do this one but I thought it was fun to learn from it.
Codegen: I really like this one! It is very easy to search by gene, mutation, keyword, disease, condition, etc. You do have to reconnect your 23andMe account every time you want to “log in”, but that only takes a second. There is an option to email a time sensitive (accessible up to one week) file of results to your doctor as well. They provide links to many research references.
Genetic Genie: This service provides you with two PDF files. One with methylation genes and the other with detox genes. I chose to use Genetic Gene to first get a feel for what I might be finding in relation to the MTHFR mutation (MTHFR falls under the methylation and detox categories) . It was not as extensive as I was looking for, but it is a great place to start.
NutraHacker: Nutrahacker is a more nutrition based service. They offer great results via “free sample” You can also pay and receive extended results. I downloaded the free portion but have yet to purchase the full results. Do any of you know if they are worth it? I think the free results are pretty interesting. It would be amazing if the full, paid results were twice as interesting!
A common one is Promethease for $5. I did not do this one because I had already purchased one that I felt was more extensive.
MTHFR Support at $30: Sterling (previously mentioned in this post) has a very thorough app on this site. The app provides a crazy amount of SNPs. They have educational YouTube video’s linked to many of the gene mutations, along with SNPedia links. Sterling also offers one on one consultations (at an additional price) to go over and understand your results.
I recently discovered Dr. Lynch has created Strate Gene for $45. I haven’t purchased this on but upon first glance at the website, it looks similar to Sterling’s App. Have you used Strate Gene?
There are many others available. Some I didn’t like the looks of, and others I just couldn’t figure out.
What other programs are out there that you would recommend?
I recommend any and all of the free ones. Sterling’s App from MTHFR support was really worth it for me. At first, I was really overwhelmed with all of the scientific codes and words, but it forced me to learn something new. I am really glad I did. I can almost understand it now! 🙂
I am happy I did the 23andMe testing. They are constantly updating their website and releasing new studies. Customers are also encouraged to participate in their surveys, which help with their research projects.
The family features are really neat as well! I was contacted by a distant cousin who told me her last name translated to fox in Russian. I don’t know of any Russian roots in my family, but that was still a pretty cool bit of information.
I would recommend 23andMe to anyone thinking about DNA testing. You get the most for your money. There are also umpteen million third-party analysis programs available.
Have you done any DNA testing before? Did you find it valuable? Are you thinking about doing it now? I look forward to continuing this conversation in the comments!
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