It’s really uncanny how much Facebook knows about us, right? For example, it obviously knows these things about me:
- I care about my health.
- I love scientific studies and research.
- I’m a sucker for any new gadget or tool that promises to improve my life.
So, of course, for months now, I’ve been seeing ads in my Facebook feed for a new product called Vessel Health. Vessel is an at-home health test that tracks several wellness metrics such as your hydration levels, certain vitamin levels, and – most interesting to me – your cortisol levels.
The product ticks all my boxes for being something I want to check out. You use Vessel for at-home testing of your wellness metrics and then Vessel makes science- and research-backed recommendations for things you can do to improve your metrics (and thus improve your health.)
I was intrigued and I wanted to know more, so I reached out to Vessel Health to see if I could get a test kit to review. They were kind enough to send me a kit with 5 test cards: 4 for me to use and 1 to give to a friend.
I’m also a Vessel Health affiliate, which means that if you choose to purchase a Vessel Health Test from the links in this blog post, I will receive payment from the company. This will not affect the price you pay and, as you’ll see in this review, I always share my honest opinion for any product I test.
What is the Vessel Health Kit?
The Vessel Health Kit is an at-home urine test. You pee on one of their test strips first thing in the morning, wait 3 minutes and then scan the strip using the Vessel Health app.
Once you’ve uploaded a photo of the stip, the app calculates your results and shows you an overall wellness score plus scores for several important wellness metrics.
The app then provides recommendations on ways you can improve your health by changing your nutrition, taking supplements, and other lifestyle changes.
What Wellness Metrics does the Vessel Test Include?
Vessel tests for >8 wellness metrics.
- Vitamin B7 (Biotin) levels
- Vitamin C levels
- Cortisol levels
- Magnesium levels
- Ketone (A and B) levels
- your PH (Ideally your body should be neither too acidic or too alkaline.)
They have announced plans to add testing for the following metrics in the future:
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12
- Glucose Levels
- Kidney function & UTI testing
How does the Vessel Health Test Work?
Here’s how Vessel is able to analyze your urine and calculate your results.
Their test strip works by combining the technology used in pregnancy tests and a urine test used in doctor’s offices. When you pee on the strip, you’ll see a series of lines like on a pregnancy test and the colored dots at the bottom will change color according to your results. When you scan your card, the Vessel app can look at the card and show you your results based on how the card has changed.
The science behind both types of tests have been around for decades so you can feel confident that your test results will be as accurate as possible.
How Accurate are Your Vessel Test Results?
Vessel submitted the results from its tests to a third-party lab for analysis and the results were shown to be roughly equivalent to results you can obtain from an FDA-cleared Device. (The details of the study can be found on the Vessel website.)
If a result is concerning, you should always reach out to your doctor for additional testing. In my case, I’m looking more for a general feel of what my levels are and to see whether they improve over time so the accuracy of the Vessel Test is fine for that.
Which is Better: a Urine Test or a Blood Test?
Vessel’s big selling point is that you can learn a lot of information about your body simply by peeing on one of their test strips. But which is better for finding out nutrient levels: a blood test or a urine sample?
A blood test can check for more health metrics than a urine test but there are a few negatives.
- You have to draw blood to get a blood test! If you’re at all squeamish, that can be a showstopper right there.
- You need to send off your blood to a lab for analysis. This can be time-consuming.
I like the idea of doing a regular urine test. I’m much more likely to remain consistent and act on the information right away.
Getting Started with Vessel
Once you sign up for Vessel, they send you your first set of strips in a beautiful Tiffany blue box. You know, if Tiffany sold urine tests.
The box contains 4 test strips, a Getting Started guide, and a test strip you can give to a friend. As a former product manager, I always really appreciate it when a product’s packaging is both beautiful and useful. The Vessel box feels (dare I say it?) truly luxurious and includes everything you need to know to get started.
You start by downloading the Vessel app. Once you have the app, you enter some basic info about yourself (height, weight, etc.) and then you tell the app what your goals are. You can pick up to 3 goals from this list:
I chose Body, Immunity and Calm. Then the app had me rate my current satisfaction with all 3 areas and asked for more details.
Once you’ve completed the questions, the app generates a wellness plan consisting of diet, exercise, supplements (if needed) and lifestyle changes. You can also reach out to a health coach via the app with any questions or concerns you might have.
What Happens When You Take Your Test?
Vessel recommends that you take your test first thing in the morning. So I hopped out of bed bright and early the next day for my first test.
The app walks you through the test and starts by asking if you want to pee directly on the test strip or in a cup.
The first time I opted to pee directly on the strip so I can tell you now that that is a Very Bad Idea. A Very, Very Bad Idea. I highly recommend getting a disposable cup, peeing in that, and then dipping the test strip into the cup. Believe me, it’s less messy that way.
After you pee on the strip (or dip it into the cup for two seconds), you wait 3 minutes while the test strip activates. The Vessel Health app starts the timer for you. The first time you test, you see some videos explaining the process and how everything works while you’re waiting for your timer to count down.
When your card is activated and ready, the app alerts you and prompts you to scan your card with your phone.
Understanding Your Vessel Test Results
Once you scan your card, you’re ready for the exciting part: your test results. Vessel shows you an overall wellness score and rates your scores in each of the areas the app tests.
Here are the scores from my first test. My wellness score was 62 out of 100 which Vessel considers to be in the “Good” range.
You can tap on the score to see just how your wellness score is calculated. In my case, my score was low because of a few factors. My cortisol is high, my magnesium is low and my pH is low as well.
I also scored 0/100 on Ketones, which seemed a little unfair. You only have ketones in your urine if you’re following a low-carb diet and have reached ketosis. I’m not doing that so it seems a little weird to ding my score for something I’m not doing. But, honestly, that’s really just nitpicking on my part.
You can tap on any test result to get more detail. For example, my score shows that I’m in the Good range for hydration, but I’m at the very bottom of the Good range. I really need to focus on improving my score in that area.
When you tap on a specific metric, you’ll see what areas of your health are affected by that metric. Tapping Learn More will further explain your results and provides links to so many scientific studies explaining just how the element you tapped affects your health.
I didn’t understand what affect my pH levels had on my health but by tapping Learn More, I discovered that eating too many acidic foods can deplete the calcium and phosphorus in our bones, leading to lower bone density. Conversely, increasing the alkali content of your diet can improve bone density.
The most common cause of an acidic pH is eating too many processed foods, consuming alcohol, and eating too much sugar. I can improve my pH by drinking water and improving my diet. Further motivation to work toward eating a healthier diet.
A Note About Cortisol
Vessel recommends that you use their tests first thing in the morning. However, your cortisol is often elevated first thing in the morning because cortisol production peaks at around 8 a.m. I reached out to my Wellness Coach because I wondered if my elevated cortisol levels could simply be a reflection of the fact that I was testing first thing in the morning.
She explained that the Vessel test results take that into account so if your cortisol is shown as elevated that means it’s elevated even beyond the levels you normally would expect it to be first thing in the morning.
That means I really need to work on lowering my cortisol levels since high cortisol levels can affect your body in so many ways.
How to Use Your Test Results
Vessel really shines once you’ve gotten your health results by providing concrete, actionable recommendations on how to improve your metics. For example, the app recommended I improve my Magnesium and Vitamin C scores by drinking 8 ounces of whole milk three times a week.
You can also purchase supplements from Vessel Fuel customized for your needs based on your test results.
Vessel Health Dietitians and Wellness Coaches
In addition to the recommendations you can get on improving your health in the app, Vessel also allows you to chat via the app with qualified Nutrition coaches who can make even more specific recommendations or answer any questions you might have. You can even schedule phone or video chat consultations to discuss your issues in even more depth.
I reached out to my wellness coach twice and both times she responded right away with helpful, detailed information. She recommended some supplements I could try to help lower my cortisol and even said she could recommend specific brands if I was interested.
How Much Does Vessel Health cost?
Vessel has three pricing levels depending on how often you test and they provide a discount if you sign up for a certain length of time. (Prices are accurate as of the writing of this post. Please check the Vessel website for the latest prices.)
- Monthly Membership Cost: $350/month
- 6 Month Membership Cost: $280/month
- 12 Month Membership Cost: $245/month
Weekly Testing (Vessel recommends this level of testing)
- Monthly Membership Cost: $50/month
- 6 Month Membership Cost: $40/month
- 12 Month Membership Cost: $35/month
- Monthly Membership Cost: $30/month
- 6 Month Membership Cost: $25/month
- 12 Month Membership Cost: $20/month
Vessel Health Pros and Cons
On the whole, I really liked this product. I’ll list the pros and then discuss some of the things I found a bit weaker.
- Testing of several important wellness markers, including Cortisol
- Easy to use and easy to get started
- Wellness coaches respond quickly and with useful information
- The packaging and app are both well-designed. (I’m a sucker for a well-designed product.)
- So. Much. Detail.
Vessel Health wants to be your health coach in an app so they provide daily recommendations for foods to eat, exercises to do, and other activities such as meditation. The recommendations sometimes seemed a little basic, especially considering the app contains so many scientific studies.
Their standard recommendations seem to be eat healthfully, exercise regularly, do something like meditation for stress relief, and drink lots of water. Obviously, we all know these things are good for you but I knew that before I started using Vessel and I still wasn’t doing as much as I should.
I did find a lot of the science behind their recommendations interesting. Did you know that exercise can actually change the composition and functional capacity of the gut microbiota?
That brings me to one more small issue I had with the Vessel program. There is so much information in the app that it’s easy to get overwhelmed or to miss information that might be really useful. For example, I only discovered how to see the details behind my overall Wellness score yesterday when I accidentally tapped in just the right spot.
And finally – and this is so very minor, but I can see where it might cause confusion – sometimes that app shows items that should be red (indicating NOT GOOD) in green (indicating GOOD). For example, I got so excited when I took my last test because I thought my Cortisol was finally in the Good range. And then I realized it still said High. Bummer.
My Recommendation: Is Vessel Health Wellness Tracker Right For You?
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Vessel Help and will be continuing my membership.
- I think the price of the service is more than fair considering how much you get out of it.
- I like being able to track the wellness metrics to see if I can improve my metrics (and therefore improve my health) over time.
- I’m looking forward to the additional metrics they will be adding to the tests, especially glucose levels.
- I’m truly overwhelmed at the amount of detail I can get from the app regarding the impact of any specific metric on my health, ways to improve my metrics, scientific research, etc.
- I am especially impressed with the Wellness Coaches and how responsive and helpful they are.
I do think that even once a week testing might be overkill because it can take several weeks for any nutrition or lifestyle changes you make to affect your wellness metrics so I will be signing for the monthly plan.
Are You Interested in Trying Vessel Health? Vessel Health Promo Codes
The folks at Vessel Health were kind enough to offer a 15% discount off your first month of Vessel Health to Midlife Rambler readers. You can get started by visiting the Vessel Health website and entering the code MR15 in the Discount Code.
If you decide to try it out, let me know what you think!