The Best DNA Test Kits of July 2018

Rediscover what family history means by using a DNA test kit and find out more information about who
you really are than you ever thought possible. See our list of the top DNA testing services in the industry.

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Find out What You’re Made of with a DNA Test Kit
 

What is a DNA Test?

DNA testing examines the genetic code that’s carried in every person’s DNA. The code can be found in the cells of any human material, from a drop of saliva to a smear of blood or a strand of hair.

How Does DNA Testing Work?

DNA testing works by taking a sample of cells from the person who’s undergoing the test. Scientists isolate the DNA code that is at the heart of every single cell and carries the information which determines all of your physical characteristics, from your hair color and height to your chances of developing certain conditions.

How Do I Use the Kit?

If you use a home DNA testing kit, you’ll find all the instructions included. Usually, you’ll be sent a sterile tube to collect your saliva sample. It can be awkward to get enough spit for the test purposes. Some companies send a cheek swab that you rub against the inside of your cheek to get a sample of cells from there, instead.

Once you've collected your DNA sample, you'll seal it into the sterile package and use the included mailing package to send it back to the company. It usually takes a few weeks to get the results, but the timeframe varies; it can be anything from 4 to 12 weeks.

When your results are ready, you’ll typically get an email inviting you to view the results online. Ancestry DNA companies have a dashboard that lets you explore your results.


Top DNA Test Kits

1. MyHeritageMyHeritage

Best Value for Money
 

Database Size: 1.1M | Geographic Regions: 42 | Y-DNA Test: No | mtDNA Test: No | Collection Method: Cheek swab

 

A few days after you order your MyHeritageDNA​ kit a small white box covered with a technicolor sunburst design will arrive at your door.

 

Inside you’ll find an 8-step instruction booklet and a postcard to remind you to activate the kit online. When you’re ready to take the test, use the 2 enclosed cotton swabs to scrape the inside of your cheeks, and then break them off inside the two organize vials and add the enclosed stabilizing liquid and seal them in the plastic bag.

 

After that, you place it all inside the pre-addressed envelope and ship it on.

 

It’s all there in the box, and really couldn’t be easier.

 

ProsCons
  • Combines DNA results and family tree analysis
  • Traces your roots to 42 ethnic regions
  • “DNA matching” - you can upload previous DNA from other brands
  • Only offers autosomal DNA testing
  • No separate health screening

 

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2. Ancestry  

The Largest Database on the Market
 

Database Size: 5M | Geographic Regions: 350+ | Y-DNA Test: No | mtDNA Test: No | Collection Method: Saliva test

 

An AncestryDNA​ kit comes in a sleek little white box that you’ll want to tear open and get started. Inside you’ll find a handy welcome card that will walk you through all the steps.

 

Under the booklet you’ll find a little tube that you’ll use to “submit” your saliva sample. You’ll also find a plastic baggie that you’ll use to hold your tube and a small, postage-paid cardboard box where you'll put the baggie and shiuop it all back to the AncestryDNA lab.

 

You also have a handy reminder on the bottom of the kit that shows you how to activate your kit online so you can view the results when they’re ready.

 

ProsCons
  • Largest database of users
  • Billions of genealogical records to search
  • Can be used to find relatives
  • Can’t upload your DNA data from other services
  • Only offers autosomal DNA testing

 

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3. Vitagene Vitagene

Health Reports and Supplements

 

Database Size: N/A | Geographic Regions: 25 | Y-DNA Test: No | mtDNA Test: No | Collection Method: Cheek swab

 

Many people who have ordered a DNA test aren’t only looking to learn about their family history, they’d also like to gain a greater understanding of their health, and how they can take better care of themselves moving forward.

 

These ancestry + health information tests are growing in popularity, and Vitagene​ has created a product that could make them a leader in this branch of the industry. With Vitagene tests not only do you get a break-down of your ancestral history across 5 regions of the world, you also get an overlook of your health and which dietary supplements you should take. You can also opt for a plan that will send you a personalized selection of supplements each month.

 

When it comes purely to genetic history, the test isn’t as detailed as some others. That said, the monthly supplements regimen is a unique offering that really makes Vitagene stand out.

 

ProsCons
  • Get supplements selected just for you
  • Receive a custom diet plan based on your DNA
  • Receive a breakdown of your ethnic makeup
  • Reliable customer service
  • The monthly supplements plan costs $79/month
  • Competitors give a more extensive ethnic history breakdown

 

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4. LivingDNA Living DNA

Extremely In-Depth Insights
 

Database Size: 1.1M | Geographic Regions: 80 | Y-DNA Test: Included | mtDNA Test: Include | Collection Method: Cheek swab

 

LivingDNA​ touts its product as using more sophisticated science than the competitors and more detailed testing, all of which starts with a little rectangular white box.

 

Inside you’ll find an instruction booklet and a vacuum-sealed test tube with a cotton swab attached to the top. Just take the cotton swab and wipe the insides of your cheeks and then insert it back into the tube, seal it, and stick the activation code to the outside.

 

The test tube will go inside the little grey “specimen bag” which you’ll put in the prepaid first-class mail bag that came with the kit.

 

Other than that, just make sure to register online so you can get your results, which should be ready in a matter of weeks.

 

ProsCons
  • Offers autosomal, Y-DNA, and mtDNA testing
  • Test results trace back 10 generations and across 80 regions
  • More detailed results than many competitors
  • More expensive than some competitors
  • Can take up to 12 weeks to get results

 

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5. GPS Origins GPS Origins

Motherline and Fatherline Included
 

Database Size: N/A | Geographic Regions: 41 | Y-DNA Test: No | mtDNA Test: No | Collection Method: Cheek swab

 

If you’re trying to follow the migrations of your family tree, a GPS could help. GPS origins is a DNA-testing company that states that it can pinpoint your gene pool percentages and ancestors’ migrations better than anybody in the industry.

 

GPS origins says that its method checks customer samples against 1,000 reference populations worldwide, which allows them to pinpoint your family origins down to some very small, unique areas.

 

Another appealing quality of GPS origins is that you can upload your raw DNA data from other sites in order to run it through the GPS origins testing methods. This will cost you a fee though, around $39. In general, at $149 GPS origins costs more than many other testing services, though what they offer is some deep, detailed testing that can give you some interesting insights.

 

 

ProsCons
  • Analyzes 1,000+ reference populations for ethnic mapping
  • 100% privacy guarantee
  • Upload DNA data from other sites
  • More expensive than some competitors

 

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Who Needs DNA Testing Kits?

Potentially, everyone could need DNA testing at some point. It can be used to check for genetic disorders or inherited health conditions, paternity testing, or ancestry testing to learn more about your origins and search for family members. DNA testing has been used by historians and archaeologists to learn more about skeletons found at historic sites. For example, when the body of King Richard II was dug up in a modern parking lot, his identity was finally confirmed after DNA tests with some of his modern-day descendants.

What Are the Different Uses of DNA Tests?

  • Paternity tests are used to confirm who is the father of a baby, child, or adult.
  • Genealogy tests are used by genealogists to determine ancestral ethnicity and relationships.
  • Gene therapy DNA testing is most commonly used for parents before they try to conceive or for fetuses to check for inheritable genetic conditions or if an embryo is carrying any birth defects.
  • Forensic DNA tests are used by police at crime scenes in order to identify victims or find criminals after certain crimes.

How to Choose a DNA Testing Kit for Ancestry

Here are the key considerations to look for when you choose a DNA testing company or kit.

1. There Are 3 Types of Tests. Start by Choosing the Type You Need

Autosomal
If you want a DNA test in order to learn more about your family and your origins, you have a few options. An autosomal DNA test checks only 22 out of the 23 pairs of chromosomes and can be used to compare DNA from both males and females, so it's best for finding a range of living relatives. It gets less reliable the further back you go because of autosomal DNA changes every generation, so it's only good for identifying up to third or sometimes fourth cousins and can only give reliable information back to your great-great-grandparents.

 

mtDNA
A mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test checks the tiny mitochondrial strands inside every cell. Both males and females inherit these mitochondria from their maternal line. It can be extended much further back in time because it doesn't change quickly. It gives very precise details about your ancestors and distant cousins – even your 48th cousin! – but only if they lie on your maternal line. It’s good for proving you come from a particular region, ethnicity, or family group but not for finding relatives.

 

Y-Chromosome
Y-DNA testing examines only the genetic information in the Y-chromosome, which is only found in males. It also does not change quickly, so like mtDNA, Y-DNA testing is good for proving relationship to a common ancestor or checking relationship with another individual, but it only works along the male or paternal line. This also means that only men can do a Y-DNA test, although women could ask a close male relative to take the Y-DNA test and then share the results.

2. Show Me the Pricing: How Much Do They Cost?

The price of the DNA test varies between different companies as well as depending on the type of test you take. mtDNA tests are the most expensive type of DNA testing, while autosomal DNA tests are the lowest cost and Y-DNA tests come in somewhere between the two. Although the tests are more or less the same, there’s a huge fluctuation in price between different companies so do compare prices before you buy. Some companies, like LivingDNA, offer a package of all 3 tests for a discount.

3. How Simple - or Difficult - Is the Kit to Use?

Most DNA testing kits are pretty straightforward, but some elderly or weak individuals can find spit tests awkward to use. In those cases, companies that offer a cheek swab for taking samples instead of needing a saliva sample could be easier.

4. How Detailed Are the Reports?

Not every company offers the same range of reports. Very few genealogical DNA testing companies will include health and wellness reports. Most companies provide ancestral reports, which break down your family heritage, ethnicity, and which region of the world you hail from, although some are more detailed than others. Some also provide a chromosomal browser which lets you compare your genetic profile with that of others from around the world. You can also find cousin matching reports, which let you know if you have any matches with other people registered with the same service.

5. How Accurate Are the Tests?

The type of test you choose affects the accuracy since autosomal DNA tests are less accurate the further back you go but mtDNA and Y-DNA tests remain reliable for dozens of generations. The biggest DNA testing companies such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and LivingDNA are all pretty equally accurate in their test results. However, all companies warn that you shouldn’t use home DNA tests for detailed and critical genetic information like the risk of genetic disorders or of developing cancer.

6. How Private Are My Results?

With the rise of hackers and cyber thieves, privacy is a big concern for DNA testing. Check that the company you choose uses industry-standard safeguards and firewalls to protect your details. You should also check that the company you choose has a strong privacy policy and won’t sell your details to medical research facilities or commercial partners without your agreement. It’s important to ask what exactly the company does with your details.

7. Any Added Features I Should Know About?

As well as these considerations, there are a few extra features that are offered by some DNA testing companies. Some companies store your data indefinitely which means you can discover new family history information 50 years down the line. Others only store it for a certain number of years.

Another feature is the size of the database. The bigger the database of users, the better your chances of finding a match.

Some companies also permit you to upload raw genealogical data to their database so you can see if you have any matches without taking a test again.

 

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