In This Article
In This Article
Most DNA testing companies specialize only in ancestry testing. Only a few add health reports. But one company that offers both features is Living DNA.
Living DNA was just launched in 2016. It used to be under DNA Worldwide, a U.K.-based company established in 2004. It partnered with FindMyPast in 2018 to incorporate the British Isles and Irish family history records.
Unlike other ancestry tests that only look at autosomal DNA, Living DNA also looks for mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) and Y-DNA (Y chromosome). Thus, it can provide additional information about maternal and paternal lineages.
Living DNA offers three DNA test kits:
Each kit contains:
Living DNA also offers two optional products:
This costs $89 plus a shipping fee. It incorporates three types of DNA tests in one kit:
This costs $99 plus a shipping fee. It analyzes 14 traits related to nutrition and exercise.
If you choose this product, you’ll get various nutrition and fitness reports, plus personalized vitamin recommendations.
This costs $119 plus a shipping fee. This kit combines all features of the Ancestry and Wellbeing Kits
If you choose the Wellbeing Kit or the Ancestry & Wellbeing Kit, Living DNA will recommend a personalized supplement based on your Wellbeing reports.
You can order the supplement for $66 per month.
You can order an ancestry book that details your genetic ancestry in coffee-table format. It contains the same ancestry information that you have on Living DNA’s website.
The ancestry book costs $40.
To initiate a DNA test:
You can access results directly through Living DNA’s website. The results are divided into three types:
The Ancestry section is divided into three sections. Each section is based on the type of DNA test used.
The Recent Ancestry page focuses on your family ancestry that’s determined by portions of DNA called “autosomes.”
Autosomes comprise 22 out of 23 human chromosomes. You received half of your autosomes from your mother and a half from your father.
Autosomes are inherited from generation to generation. This is the reason autosomal DNA testing is 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 that 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.
So, 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:
When I updated in March 2022, my results shifted a bit and became more detailed:
My results changed again in December 2022:
While my top ancestral region remains North and West Europe, the percentage changed from 77.8% to the most recent 91.5%.
Before we go into the Maternal and Paternal Ancestry pages, let’s first define haplogroup.
A woman passes the same mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) to all her children. A man passes the same Y-DNA (Y chromosomes) to his sons.
People will share similar mtDNA or Y-DNA over multiple generations. This is the basis of haplogroups.
For mtDNA haplogroups, people descended from the same female ancestor. This is the focus of Living DNA’s Maternal Ancestry.
For Y-DNA haplogroups, people descended from the same male ancestor. This is the focus of Living DNA’s Paternal Ancestry.
The Maternal Ancestry page explains details of your maternal haplogroup. It includes Migration Map and Coverage Map.
Migration Map is one of the more exciting things I’ve seen in all of the DNA testing kits I’ve taken. It illustrates how ancestors from my mother’s haplogroups moved through the world to where I am today.
My motherline signature belongs to the H13 group. There's a possibility that this group came from the southern regions of Europe or the Caucasus.
Coverage Map shows where people who share my maternal haplogroup live today. If I were to visit these regions, I might bump into someone with whom I share a common female ancestor. In my case, I may find them in Daghestan or Georgia.
For males, there’s an additional feature called Paternal Ancestry. It explains details of the paternal haplogroup.
Like Maternal Ancestry, it tracks the ancestry patterns of a particular type of DNA. But this time, it’s the Y-DNA or Y chromosome.
Females won’t have this page because they don’t have Y chromosomes.
Like Maternal Ancestry, the Paternal Ancestry page includes Migration Map and Coverage Map.
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.
Coverage Map shows where people who share my paternal haplogroup live today. This means that if I visit such regions, I may meet someone with whom I share a common male ancestor. In my case, they are probably in Wales.
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 matches.
However, the company has a great capacity to grow with a lifetime of free updates.
This system fuels One Family One World Project, an initiative undertaken by Living DNA. The company aims to connect more people through the contributions of customers and uploaders.
This page is for those who purchased the Wellbeing Kit or the Ancestry & Wellbeing Kit. It covers 14 wellness traits:
The reports advise nutrition and specific exercises that may help you meet your wellness goals.
As a demonstration, I dug into one report titled Stamina:
The Stamina page includes four traits. I clicked on Recovery Speed, and it led me to this page:
The Recovery Speed page gives suggestions. Roughly 10 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.
The supplement costs $55 per month, which is pretty expensive. I’m unsure if this supplement is worth buying, but this is an interesting place to monitor.
Living DNA’s Wellbeing reports are informational and not designed to be diagnostic. It doesn’t offer genetic health risks or carrier status information, which you can find in 23andme and other providers.
Here are additional features of Living DNA:
According to Living DNA’s privacy center:
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No genetic testing can guarantee 100% where our ancestors lived. We will still look for large regions most of the time if it can.
Fortunately, Living DNA has a sub-regional breakdown besides the larger regional analysis.
Living DNA has a majority of users from the UK. This makes their results accurate for people with European, British, and Irish ancestry.
However, reports for users with ancestors from France, Germany, Italy, or other European countries may not be accurate. But this issue should be resolved over time as Living DNA increases its reference populations.
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.
Living DNA’s Wellbeing Kit is priced similarly to genetic health kits offered by other companies. However, it doesn’t provide reports about carrier status or genetic health risks.
You do have the option to download your data from Living DNA then upload it to other services. You can get more information about your health by using the data that you already have.
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’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. But Ancestry DNA offers a more comprehensive family matching service.
Family Tree DNA offers autosomal, y-DNA, and mtDNA tests. However, you need to buy all kits if you need all three tests. Living DNA bundles all three tests in its ancestry kit.
Living DNA’s autosomal DNA test provides ethnic profiles that are more detailed than Family Tree DNA.
Family Tree DNA offers a better family matching service. Its Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are more extensive.
Living DNA offers all three types of DNA tests. MyHeritage only offers autosomal tests.
Regarding health screening tests, MyHeritage provides carrier status and genetic health risk. This is something not offered by Living DNA.
MyHeritage has historical records and a family tree builder. Living DNA has none.
While Living DNA is relatively new in the DNA testing service scene, it has grown over the years to become a solid player.
Living DNA’s reference populations are concentrated in places in the U.K. This means ancestry reports for users from France, Germany, Italy, or other European countries may not be accurate.
Unlike Ancestry DNA or MyHeritage DNA, Living DNA does not have a historical records database or the ability to build a family tree.
Living DNA has probably one of the most detailed ancestry reports on the market today. It provides information about maternal and paternal lineages, a feature not always found in DNA tests.
Living DNA’s wellness tests are packed with information. But for a broader array of health tests, you’re better off with other choices, like 23andMe.
Furthermore, Living DNA is one of the few companies committed to keeping your results private. While the company uses your data for research, it does not aggregate and sell your DNA data like many other companies.
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