6 Best DNA Testing Kits
Table of Contents
Finding The Best DNA Testing Kits
Everyone has seen at least one Jerry Springer Show celebration in which a guest performs a backflip, the worm, or a round-off upon hearing that they are not the father.
Though we laugh at these instances—and there’s no definitive answer as to whether or not the scenarios are fabricated by the producers—it’s scary to be left in the dark about DNA tests.
This issue applies to more than just would-be parents. As the world grows more and more globalized, more people want to rediscover their roots and ancestry. The intersection between heritage, culture, and biology is complex but it’s well worth exploring.
Sadly, you can’t just ask your mom where you came from unless you want a detailed yet useless story of how your ancestors came from a country that doesn’t even exist anymore. What you can do is use one of the best DNA testing kits I’m going to tell you about today.
Inside this article, you’ll learn about the six most-trusted DNA companies currently operating, what makes each one unique, and who they’re best suited for. Let’s get started.
The 6 Best DNA Testing Kits
MyHeritage began in 2003 as a garage start-up, but its rampant success has allowed the company to expand its resources. As such, it now possesses perhaps the most genealogical data out of any company in the world.
The MyHeritage DNA Kit costs just $39, on top of this you also get a 30 day trial of their complete plan. There are a few reasons why you’d want to pick it up over other options. It can break down your ethnicity into 42 different groups with percentages of each.
The kit can also connect you to others with similar DNA results, meaning you could potentially find long-lost relatives. The saliva swab test can be performed in under two minutes too. No drooling involved!
Additionally, there are annual subscription plans that, while being completely optional, can add more features like a deeper family tree, access to family records from more than 48 countries, and over 18 billion historical records.
These subscriptions can cost up to $150 for the first year (for the complete plan), so they’re by no means essential. However, if you want to obtain the most robust DNA test results, then you might deem them necessary. If you want to try it out before committing, you can always purchase their DNA Kit which includes a free 30 day trial.
Here’s how one customer described the MyHeritage process: “I get more help with my family history from My Heritage than any other genealogy site… I work as a ward consultant in my church and I make sure each person I help is signed up to MyHeritage as well.”
- Free trial offered
- Cloud service
- Results in under four weeks
- Subscription-based plans for additional results
Their DNA kit is now only $39 which is the lowest price of the year and when users purchase the kit they will also get a 30 day free trial of their complete plan.
The next entry in my list of the best DNA testing kits comes from a company that most North American readers are probably vaguely familiar with. Ancestry has sold more than 18 million DNA kits across the world and has a massive database of more than 30 billion records.
Those who will get the most bang for their buck with Ancestry DNA are those who already have an Ancestry account. It can link up with your family tree there to trace your lineage. Using your DNA sample, Ancestry also checks for health risks that are linked to your genetics.
Supposedly, AncestryDNA frequently holds sales, which makes its $99 price tag appear not as bad.
And since you get a discount if you order multiple kits and Ancestry’s framework is based around sharing results with your relatives, it’s a strong contender on this list, especially for families.
This is what one customer wrote about AncestryDNA:
“The relationship calculations are pretty accurate and the database is huge. Compared to my other tests, this one returned far more and much closer connections. If you’re looking for birth parents and such, this is the place to start. Just remember that the calculator is an estimate and other possibilities exist.”
- Its database includes more than 1.4 million people
- It possesses more than 30 billion records
- 4.7/5 stars based on more than 74k pieces of customer feedback on Amazon
- Can connect to already existing Ancestry accounts
23andMe has a laundry list of accolades that have earned it a spot on this list of the ‘best DNA testing kits.’ Some of its accomplishments include:
- Winning Time’s Invention of the Year award in 2008 for its saliva-based testing
- Being the first company to use autosomal DNA testing, a standard that all DNA testing companies now follow
- Its tests are over 99% accurate and have been replicated with more than 99% accuracy even under different laboratory conditions
Many customers are drawn to 23andMe for its deep health results. Depending on which service you purchase, you can find out how your body can process certain medications depending on your genes, whether you’re more likely to carry a specific disease, how your genes can affect your daily life and well-being, how your DNA can affect your face and other features, and more.
Here’s the price breakdown of 23andMe’s kits:
- 23andMe Ancestry Traits + Service: $99
- 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service: $199
- 23andMe+ Membership: $199
“I like that it tells you your genetic risk for many conditions like Parkinsons, breast and colon cancers, celiac disease, and more… Please note that they only test for a couple of different variants associated with each so you will need to go to your doctor to get more in-depth testing. It was comforting to see that while some of these things run in our family that I didn’t have some of the major hereditary things that they did test for,“ wrote one 23andMe buyer.
- Health-focused DNA test
- 4.7/5 stars based on more than 32k pieces of customer feedback on Amazon
- Innovative DNA tests
4. Family Tree DNA
As you can tell by its name, Family Tree DNA is focused more on connecting family members with each other than on health results.
Its database comes from its members who create free accounts and add information, so you’re more likely to get realistic links to distant relatives.
In reality, this company doesn’t produce its kits but relies on the best DNA test kits from companies like MyHeritage, 23andMe, and AncestryDNA.
You may be wondering why I even included it on this list. Well, it’s because you’re not limited to accessing only the databases of those companies. Family Tree DNA allows you to take those results and apply them to its own database, which is the largest family tree in the world.
Here’s what one customer wrote about the advantages of using Family Tree DNA.
“The reason to test with FTDNA is their additional testing products. If you’re a male tester, you can do additional Y-DNA testing which only tests the Y-chromosome. This allows the test to reach much further back in time; autosomal testing is only good for about 4-5 generations. FTDNA also keeps your sample for 25 years so it’s available for additional testing even if the original test taker isn’t. So if you’re considering doing any additional DNA testing, FTDNA is your best choice.”
- Offers Y-chromosome DNA tests
- 4.2/5 stars based on more than 1.1k pieces of customer feedback on Amazon
- More than 1 billion people on its collective family tree
CricleDNA comes with many of the advantages of the other kits I’ve told you about. Its tests are up to 99.9% accurate using its whole exome sequencing technology. It uses an easy saliva collection swab that you can do at home.
However, what makes this company worthy of having one of the best DNA testing kits is that included in your purchase is a complimentary one-on-one consultation with one of its experts. They can answer all your questions and help you make sense of the oftentimes vague and confusing results of your DNA test.
CircleDNA’s least expensive test costs $189 but includes more results and options than you can shake a stick at. One customer described the results as:
“Very detailed report and some of the findings that I can attest to are accurate (like lactose intolerance, sensitivity to spice, likeliness to get mosquito bite more than average ppl). They also highlighted risk of hearing loss and to avoid certain group of antibiotic which is extremely useful information as my uncle went deaf because of consumption of such antibiotic. The counseling sessions are also very helpful”
- 4.5/5 stars based on more than 800 pieces of customer feedback on Trustpilot
- Offers free appointments with its staff
6. Living DNA
The final entry on my list of the ‘best DNA testing kits’ comes from one of the top DNA testing firms on the planet. Living DNA offers a few different kits that can assess your DNA through different lenses.
For example, you can enroll in its ancestry service if you want to find out where your heritage lies. But you can also explore which types of exercise would be best for you based on your genetics.
Those options are just the tip of the iceberg. Living DNA’s basic plans cost $129 with the option to add more results and tests if you so please.
“Living DNA is a top shelf ethnic ancestry service provider. If you are like me and have a great deal of ancestors from the United Kingdom and Ireland, then look no further. I was shocked at how accurate their results were. The journey of tracing an ancestor’s path back to their ancestral home can be frustrating; however, Living DNA and their team can help encourage your efforts,” wrote one buyer.
- 3.9/5 stars based on more than 400 pieces of customer feedback
- Results return in six weeks
- Can provide specific fitness- and well-being-based results that other brands do not
How To Find The Best DNA Testing Kit
So what’s the best DNA kit for you? One way to find the best DNA testing kit for you is to look at which type of test each company employs. Then you can choose the one that meets your needs.
Currently, there are three widely available tests.
- Y chromosome testing – a process that tests the direct lineage between fathers and sons
- Mitochondrial DNA testing – looks at the information inside the mitochondria so it can test both male and female lineages
- Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) testing – looks at the most common variances between people to provide the most in-depth results
Reputation matters a fair bit when it comes to choosing the best DNA testing kits. There’s a reason why you’ve likely heard of brands like 23andMe before reading this list. After all, word can spread like wildfire these days with social media and YouTube.
A company’s reputation speaks to its ability to deliver results. It’s also a good way to gauge how well it balances the following factors.
Database and Range of Matches
It’s only going to be better for you if you choose a kit that comes from a company with a large database. Possessing one gives the company more resources to explore your potential lineage as it can make more connections for each client. Think about it: if a brand had a database with only one match, how could it tell where your ancestry lies?
You’re sending your DNA across the world to a lab with people you’ve never met who are going to use your spit to find out information about you that you never knew about yourself. I shouldn’t have to stress that the best DNA testing kits should also have the best privacy policies so that your information only goes where you want it to.
If you live in a place like San Francisco that’s brimming with technology options then you’ll have more brands to choose from. However, someone living in Omaha, Nebraska will have to pay more attention to which companies can pick up and deliver their results. Make sure you select a company that provides service to your location.
You shouldn’t have to pay more for a service that you don’t want or need. On the other hand, you don’t want to skimp out on information that could prove vital to your health. As such, it’s best you find an option that works with your budget and gives you the results you desire.
Are DNA Testing Kits Worth It?
This depends on a few factors, the most important being how much you value your DNA. What does that mean?
It seems that many people online expect DNA kits, even the best DNA testing kits, to give them a well-researched breakdown of their entire ancestry.
The only problem is, there’s simply no science that’s available at this time that can provide that. These technologies have their limits and people tend to forget about other factors that could affect or distort their results. So I recommend keeping these things in mind.
Are At-Home DNA Tests Accurate?
As with the previous question, the accuracy of a DNA test varies. Even the best DNA testing kits, which can be up to 99.9% effective, can produce different results depending on the database that each company has.
They all possess different DNA data so the small discrepancies in that 0.01% margin of error can lead to slightly altered results.
The important thing to keep in mind is that DNA contains millions of packets of information so it’s akin to when a company claims its anti-bacterial spray kills 99.9% of germs. It’d be virtually impossible to kill 100% just like it’s nearly impossible to test your DNA with 100% accuracy. I hope that makes sense.
That being said, do you really need 100% accuracy with your DNA tests? I’m not being pedantic, I’m just saying that most people don’t care too much for details, and that’s fine.
The small discrepancies that may arise aren’t enough to skew your results too much. For example, your results likely wouldn’t tell you that you’re 66% Mongolian if the last three generations of your family have lived in Ireland.
How Do You Test Your DNA At Home?
The process is really straightforward! Most DNA testing kits require a saliva swab. You can do this at home by following the instructions that come with your purchased kit. In a nutshell, you’ll rub the swab on the inside of your cheek to collect saliva, then package it safely and send it off to the company.
Can Siblings Have Different DNA?
The simple answer is yes, they can. Blood siblings only share 50% of their DNA with each other, but it’s not a direct split. It’s not like you have 50% of your parents’ genes and your sibling has the 50% that you’re missing—it’s a random assortment of genes.
And when it comes to your ancestry, this can make things very interesting.
For example, you and your sibling may both be half Polish and half Ukrainian if you have a fully Polish and fully Ukrainian parent respectively, but that mix may not be reflected in your genes. You may have 75% Polish genes and 25% Ukrainian genes, for instance, whereas your sibling is 60% Ukrainian and 40% Polish, genetically speaking.
Are you both half Polish and half Ukrainian by all standard measures? Of course, but the point I’m making is that siblings can have different DNA due to the complex nature of biology.
Are You More Related To Your Mother Or Father?
This answer is similar to that of the last question. In theory, you’re related to both your parents by the same amount. But since gene expression isn’t perfect, you may actually be more related to one parent than the other because you got more of their genes—which is why some people look more like their dad than their mom (or vice versa).
There are endless benefits to using one of the best DNA testing kits—beyond avoiding an awkward interaction on a program like the Jerry Springer Show. Knowing which results you’re most interested in will help you pick from the options I’ve laid out for you. Best of luck!
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