Nutrigene believes your genes may hold the secret to what you might be missing in your diet. The company will send you tailor-made liquid vitamin supplements based on a lifestyle quiz and your DNA.
You fill out an assessment on the startup’s website, choose a recommended package, such as essentials, improve performance or optimize gut health, and Nutrigene will send you liquid supplements built just for you. It is also going to start allowing customers to upload their 23andMe data to find get an assessment of their nutritional needs based on DNA.
Founder Min FitzGerald launched the startup out of Singularity and later accepted a Google fellowship for the idea. Nutrigene is now going through the current YC class. Her co-founder and CTO Van Duesterberg comes from a biotech and epigenetics background and holds a PhD from Stanford.
The idea sounds a bit far-fetched at first — simply take a quiz, import your DNA and you magically have all your nutritional needs taken care of. However, Dawn Barry, former VP at Illumina and now president of Luna DNA, a biotech company powered by the blockchain, says it could have some scientific underpinnings. But, she cautioned, nutrigenetics is still an early science.
Amir Trabelsi, founder of genetic analysis platform Genoox, agrees. And, he pointed out, these types of companies don’t need to provide any proof.
“That doesn’t mean it’s completely wrong,” Trabelsi told TechCrunch. “But we don’t know enough to say this person should use Vitamin A, for example… There needs to be more trials and observation.”
Still, the vitamin industry is big business, pulling in more than $36 billion dollars in just the U.S. last year. With or without the genetic component, Nutrigene promises to deliver high-quality ingredients, optimized in liquid form.
Fitzgerald says the liquid component helps the supplements work 10 times better in your body than powder-based pills and, she points out, some people can’t swallow pills.
Hesitant, I agreed to try it out for myself. The process was fairly easy and the lifestyle quiz only took about 10 minutes. Then, I sent in my raw data from my 23andMe account.
Though genetics are a factor in Nutrigene’s ultimate formulation, FitzGerald told me the DNA part is pretty new and that my biometric details and goals were more indicative of how the company tailored my dosages.
However, I did apparently need more B12, according to FitzGerald. “Hence we gave you a good dose of B12 in your elixir,” she told me.
Does the stuff work? Tough to say. I didn’t feel any different on Nutrigene’s liquid vitamins than I do normally. Though, full disclosure, I’ve been taking what I believe to be some pretty good prenatal vitamins from New Chapter and a DHA supplement from Nordic Naturals for almost a year now while I’ve been building a baby in my womb. My doctor tested my nutritional levels at the beginning of my pregnancy through a blood sample, seemed pleased with my choice to take prenatals and didn’t tell me to do anything different.
Would Nutrigene’s formula be ideal for someone else? Possibly, especially if that person holds a high standard for ingredients in their supplements or has a hard time swallowing pills. However, it seems the jury is still out on the science behind vitamins tailored to your genetics and, like Trabelsi mentioned earlier, we likely need a lot more study on the matter.
For those interested in trying out Nutrigene, you can do so by ordering on the website. Package pricing varies and depends on nutritional needs, but starts at around $85 per month.