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Does Living DNA Deliver Accurate Results? Read Our Full Review
Updated on February 9, 2024
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DNA Testing
Does Living DNA Deliver Accurate Results? Read Our Full Review

DNA ancestry testing offers a way for people interested in family history (genealogy) to learn more than they can from relatives or written records.

Most DNA ancestry tests only look at autosomal DNA—DNA from the chromosomes you inherited equally from your parents. However, Living DNA also looks at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA).

MtDNA is passed on unchanged from a mother to her children, regardless of sex. Y-DNA, on the other hand, is only passed down from fathers to their sons.1,2 

With these DNA test types, Living DNA traces and provides information about your maternal and paternal lineages. This Living DNA review will discuss products, features, ancestry and wellness reports, privacy policy, and how Living DNA fares against other DNA tests.

Does Living DNA Deliver Accurate Results? Read Our Full Review 19

Product Review Summary

Pros

  • Performs three different DNA tests (autosomal, mtDNA, Y-DNA)
  • Can trace your father’s and mother’s lineage
  • Free lifetime updates to ancestry results
  • Great visualization tools
  • Nothing is hidden behind a paywall

Cons

  • Smaller database size
  • Wellbeing reports don’t provide carrier status or genetic health risks
  •  Users are highly concentrated in the U.K., affecting test accuracy

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My Living DNA Results

You can access results directly through Living DNA’s website. The results are divided into three types: 

  • Ancestry
  • Relatives 
  • Wellbeing

Ancestry

The Ancestry section is divided into three sections. Each section is based on the type of DNA test used:

  • Recent Ancestry is based on autosomal DNA. You’ll learn about your ethnicity estimates and how your ancestors migrated worldwide.
  • Maternal Ancestry is based on mtDNA. You’ll get detailed information about your maternal lineage.

Paternal Ancestry is based on Y-DNA. You’ll get detailed information about your paternal lineage.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

Recent Ancestry

The Recent Ancestry page focuses on your family ancestry that’s determined by portions of DNA called “autosomes.”

Autosomes comprise 22 out of 23 pairs of human chromosomes. You received half of your autosomes from your mother and half from your father. They're inherited from generation to generation. This makes autosomal DNA testing sufficient in establishing ancestry patterns.

When one population group lives in one area over time, the collective DNA of the group will become distinct from the DNA of other ethnic groups. This is the basis for estimating ethnicity.

On the recent ancestry page, you can find the places where your ancestors originated. It shows a regional breakdown of your recent ancestors within ten generations or roughly 300 years.

One good thing about Living DNA is that it keeps updating. It continues collecting new data to refine the genetic signature of ancestral regions. Because of this, expect your ethnicity estimates to change whenever there’s an update. The updates are free. You can also refer to your previous results.

In my case, when I first viewed my profile in March 2019, I got this result:

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

When I updated in March 2022, my results shifted a bit and became more detailed:

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

My results changed again in December 2022:

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

While my top ancestral region remains North and West Europe, the percentage changed from 77.8% to the most recent 91.5%.

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Maternal Ancestry

The maternal ancestry page explains details of your maternal haplogroup. It includes a migration map and a coverage map.

The migration map is one of the more exciting features I’ve seen in all the DNA testing kits I’ve taken.

It illustrates how the ancestors from my mother’s haplogroups moved through the world to where I am today. This is also called migration pattern.

My motherline signature belongs to the H13 group. This group likely came from the southern regions of Europe or the Caucasus.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

The coverage map shows where people from my maternal haplogroup live today. For instance, If I visit the Daghestan or Georgia regions, I might bump into someone with whom I share a common female ancestor.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

Paternal Ancestry

Paternal Ancestry is an additional feature for males. It explains the details of their paternal haplogroup.

It tracks the ancestry patterns of the Y-DNA or Y chromosome. Females won’t have this page since they don’t have Y chromosomes.

The paternal ancestry page also includes migration and coverage maps like maternal ancestry.

The migration map shows the journey taken by ancestors from my paternal haplogroup to get to where I am today.

In my case, my fatherline’s signature belongs to the R-M269 group. This group is most common in Europe, especially on the western side.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

The Coverage Map shows where people who share my paternal haplogroup live today. This means that if I visit regions like Wales, I may meet someone with whom I share a common male ancestor.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel
Does Living DNA Deliver Accurate Results? Read Our Full Review 28
KnowYourDNA / Joel

Relatives

This page is about family matching. Here, you can find and connect with possible relatives who have uploaded their DNA results to Living DNA’s database.

Living DNA’s database appears to be limited compared to bigger ones like 23andMe or Ancestry DNA, so expect fewer DNA matches.

Despite this, the company has great potential to grow, considering that Living DNA comes with a lifetime of free updates. It has the capacity to help its users find relatives like the bigger players in the consumer DNA testing industry.

Other Reports — Wellbeing

This page is for those who purchased the Wellbeing Kit or the Ancestry & Wellbeing Kit. It covers 14 wellness traits:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3
  • Carbohydrates and Sugars
  • Lactose Tolerance
  • Celiac Disease Risk
  • Maximum Strength
  • Recovery Speed 
  • Endurance - Oxygen Flow
  • Endurance Trainability 
  • Endurance - Blood Vessel Response 
  • Tendon Durability
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The reports offer nutrition advice and specific exercises that may help you meet your wellness goals depending on your traits. 

As a demonstration, I dug into the stamina report: 

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

The Stamina page includes four traits. I clicked on Recovery Speed, and it led me to this page:

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

The recovery speed page gives suggestions. Roughly ten to 25% of the report is interesting, while the rest is standard health advice.

Living DNA will also generate a supplement report based on your DNA data. It will recommend a custom supplement mix, which you can order online.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

What Tests Do They Offer?

Living DNA offers three (3) types of test kits. 

1. Full Ancestry Kit

The full ancestry test analyzes three (3) DNA types in one kit:

  • Autosomal — To establish your family ancestry patterns
  • Mitochondrial (mtDNA) — To trace your maternal lineage
  • Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) — To trace paternal lineage, which only applies to biological males

2. Wellbeing Kit

The wellbeing kit includes assessing how your body’s genetics affect your vitamin response and food metabolism. 

It analyzes 11 to 14 traits related to nutrition and exercise. It also gives you various nutrition and fitness reports, plus personalized vitamin recommendations.

3. Ancestry & Wellbeing Kit

The test kit combines all the features and reports of the ancestry and wellbeing kits.

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Living DNA Full Ancestry Test Kit

The full ancestry test kit analyzes and compares your DNA variations across over 150 regions to uncover your DNA origins.

Quick Facts on Living DNA Ancestry Test Kit

Price$99
Collection TypeMouth/cheek swab
DNA Testing MethodmtDNA
atDNA
Y-DNA

Is the Living DNA Test Accurate?

Not completely, as no genetic ancestry testing can guarantee 100% accurate information about where our ancestors lived. Fortunately, Living DNA has a sub-regional breakdown besides the larger regional analysis.

Living DNA has a majority of users from the UK. It makes their results accurate for people with European, British, and Irish ancestry. 

However, ancestry reports for users with ancestors from France, Germany, Italy, or other European countries may need to be more accurate. Despite this, Living DNA’s increasing updates with their reference populations should resolve this issue over time.

Living DNA also recently expanded into Africa.

With 72 new regions, it now has one of the most extensive reference panels for African ancestry testing.4

What’s Inside The Kit?

Each Living DNA test kit includes a

  • Cheek swab
  • Return envelope
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You may also add a custom supplement or ancestry book to your purchase.

How Does Living DNA Work

To initiate a DNA test: 

  1. Order a test kit from Living DNA’s website. 
  2. Once received, activate the kit online.
  3. Swab the inside of your cheek to get a DNA sample. 
  4. Put the cheek swab into the tube.
  5. Return your DNA swab sample to Living DNA.
  6. Wait for test results after six to eight weeks. Mine took 25 days.
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KnowYourDNA / Joel

Where Can I Buy The Test Kit?

Living DNA ancestry test kit is available on their website.

How Much Does The Test Kit Cost?

Living DNA Full Ancestry test kit costs $119 plus shipping. The prices of the other two kits are:

  • Ancestry + Wellbeing — $199 + shipping
  • Ancestry + Neanderthal — $145 + shipping

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Living DNA vs. Competitors

Comparison of Ancestry DNA TestsLiving DNAAncestryDNA23andMe
Price$119$99$119
DNA collection typeCheek swabSalivaSaliva
Database sizeNot reportedOver 22 million12 million
Types of DNA testAutosomal (atDNA)
Mitochondrial (mDNA)
Y-Chromosome (yDNA)
Autosomal DNA (atDNA)Autosomal (atDNA)
Mitochondrial (mDNA)
Y-Chromosome (yDNA)
Offers DNA matchingYesYesYes
Geographic regions1502,000 +1,000 +
Provides tools for building your family treeYesYesYes
Allows uploading from other platformsYesNoNo
Lets you download and delete your raw DNA dataYesYesYes
Offers health testingYesNoYes
Turn around time6 to 8 weeksWithin 8 weeks4 to 5 weeks

Living DNA vs. 23andMe

Both Living DNA and 23andMe combine autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-DNA into their ancestry test kits. However, 23andMe does more in terms of health screening.

Living DNA vs. AncestryDNA

Living DNA’s ancestry kit has autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-DNA tests. Ancestry DNA only tests for autosomal DNA.

Living DNA breaks your ethnicity results down into more regions. However, Ancestry DNA offers a more comprehensive family matching service.

Is Living DNA Ancestry Test Worth It?

Yes. Genetic ancestry testing offers essential insights to anyone longing to discover their origins. Living DNA is a reliable way to trace your ancestry and build your family tree.

Living DNA may have been a recent entry into the ancestry testing field since it was founded in 2016. 

However, as an off-shoot of DNA Worldwide, a leader in forensic testing, it is full of potential. Living DNA has grown over the last two years to become a solid player in at-home DNA testing. 

You can write Living DNA on your list if you're looking for an affordable but reliable test kit. They’re one of the cheapest kits on the market.

How We Evaluated The Test

Our team came up with a list of criteria based on the following:

Data Privacy Measures

The company has safeguards to ensure confidentiality. For example, it uses ISO:27001, an international data management and information security standard.

Living DNA also promises not to aggregate and sell your genetic DNA analysis data.

However, the company will ask for your consent to use your data for internal research. The company may ask to use your DNA data for their One Family One World Project and other genetic research.

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Test Results

Living DNA can unfold essential discoveries on your ancestry with their DNA test kits. Plus, they have exciting reports like the migration pattern or map.

Types of Test

Living DNA can already look at three different types of DNA using one sample. It can give you rich information on your ancestry, including information from your father's and mother’s sides of the family.

Cost

Living DNA test kits are among the market's budget-friendly picks for at-home DNA test kits.

About the Company

Living DNA was the brainchild of the husband-and-wife team David Nicholson and Hannah Morden. It was launched in 2016 by a U.K.-based company called DNA Worldwide.

The company strives to lead the genetic DNA testing scene, aiming to be the first to map a global family tree. In 2017, it launched the One Family World Project. 

The initiative is dedicated to uncovering our interrelation through DNA. In 2018, Living DNA partnered with FindMyPast to incorporate the British Isles and Irish family history records into their services.

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KnowYourDNA / Joel

Why Trust Us

KnowYourDNA is committed to making healthcare more accessible to the public, which is why we feature products that meet industry standards.

We only choose at-home test kits that undergo reliable testing methods. We also picked test companies with science-backed reports aimed at improving your health.

Our in-house medical experts help ensure the accuracy of the information we give to our readers by reviewing them before publication.

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Looking for a DNA test that's accurate and can tell you about your health and heritage?

Updated on February 9, 2024
Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad
Content Contributor
Angela is a full-time digital content manager and editor for Know Your DNA. She also contributes freelance articles to several local and international websites when she has the time. She's always been a voracious believer in finding the truth and ensuring the science is sound.
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