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In This Article
No single test can accurately tell you everything there is to know about your DNA. It all depends on what you’re looking for.
Since there are so many genetic tests, we put together a list of the most accurate DNA tests based on the information you need.
When learning more about your ethnic and ancestral origins, AncestryDNA is the best DNA testing kit for the job.
But if you want to understand your genetic risk and family history simultaneously, we recommend the 23andMe Health + Ancestry test.
Personally, I’ve been testing DNA kits for the last seven years, have taken every DNA test on the market & compared results, and tested/tracked the changes over time.
As an organization, we at KnowYourDNA are committed to helping you get the most accurate information about your ancestry, health risks, and other genetic traits.
We only choose at-home DNA tests that meet the standards of the DNA testing industry and provide reliable testing methods.
Our in-house medical experts help ensure the accuracy of our articles by reviewing them before publication.
Below, we take a closer look at the best DNA tests for ancestry, health, genealogy, and your budget:
Ancestry is the largest DNA testing company with over 22 million users. It matches your DNA with people from 1,800+ regions.
AncestryDNA provides comprehensive reports on your ancestry and ethnicity from both maternal and paternal lines.
For instance, I learned that I share 27% of my DNA with Norwegians and that my most recent ancestors may have come from Norway and five other communities.
Ancestry also provides access to billions of historical records and digital copies of old newspapers—so you can look into your family history.
You can read more in my AncestryDNA review.
23andMe is the second largest DNA testing service with over 12 million users. It compares your DNA with people from 2,000+ regions.
23andMe provides 50+ reports on genes related to health and wellness. This includes your genetic predisposition or risk for some health conditions.
You’ll discover various genetic traits that influence your well-being and how your body metabolizes certain medications.
23andMe Health + Ancestry also checks your carrier status for diseases you might pass on to your future children.
If you want to find relatives and learn about your ancestry and other traits, 23andMe has more DNA kits to choose from.
Living DNA is a UK-based genetic testing company that offers unique ancestry tests and well-being kits.
LivingDNA provides separate ancestry reports for your maternal and paternal lines, including maps of their migration routes.
Besides testing for traits important to your current health, LivingDNA also provides health advice and access to personalized vitamins that they determine you may need.
For instance, my report says I have genetic markers that impair my absorption of vitamin D and enable me to have enhanced recovery and oxygen flow.
According to LivingDNA, I may benefit from intense physical activities and a customized blend of vitamins.
You can read more in my LivingDNA review.
MyHeritage is one of the biggest DNA companies with about 6.6 million users in its database. It matches your DNA with people from 2,100+ regions.
Most of the company’s users and historical records are from Europe. So if you can trace your family history to this continent, MyHeritage is a great option.
But it’s even better for genealogy—which includes building your family tree and finding lost relatives. Here is our My Heritage review if you want to learn more.
When you upload raw DNA data from services like Ancestry or 23andMe, MyHeritage can find more potential relatives.
Your DNA testing results will show you how much DNA you share with a possible relative and what kind of relationship you likely have (e.g., cousins).
|Best DNA Test Kits||Ancestry DNA||23andMe||Living DNA||My Heritage|
|Size of DNA Database||22 million||12 million||Unknown||6.6 million|
|Number of Tested Regions||1,800+||2,000+||150+||2,100+|
|DNA Testing Method||Autosomal test||Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal test||Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal test||Autosomal test|
|Health Risks Report||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Carrier Status Report||No||Yes||No||No|
|Health Traits Report||No||Yes||Yes||No|
We evaluated DNA testing companies based on the following criteria:
These criteria helped our team narrow down the most accurate DNA tests.
Companies with more DNA test takers have larger databases to compare your DNA with. A larger pool of test takers increases your odds of finding a genetic match.
Genetic matches are people you share DNA with. They’re genetically related to or have common ancestors with you.
A large database improves the accuracy and reach of people trying to investigate their ancestry or find distant relatives and lost family members.
To explore your family’s origins, companies also need to compare your DNA sample with the genetic makeup of people from different ethnic backgrounds.
Native inhabitants of a region tend to have similar phenotypes or observable traits, like height and blood type.1
Having similar DNA with a group of people means you share common ancestors.
We looked for DNA testing kits that test you against more populations and geographic regions because they tend to provide better results.
Companies like AncestryDNA cover many places worldwide—which is great if you have no idea where your family originated.
But if you know your family background, you can settle for companies that focus on populations from specific geographic regions.
For instance, MyHeritage and LivingDNA are both good options for people who have ancestors from Europe and nearby regions.
Most at-home DNA tests perform DNA analysis in three ways:
Y-DNA and mtDNA testing are useful for genetic genealogy. This includes tracing your ancestors, finding missing relatives, and building family trees.
Unlike autosomal tests, mtDNA tests give you more in-depth information on your mother’s side of the family (matrilineal ancestry).
When combined with autosomal DNA testing, an mtDNA test can accurately determine if someone is related to you through your matriline.
Y-DNA tests provide deeper insight into your father’s side (patrilineal ancestry)—but only if you’re a man. So they aren’t much use for women.
The best DNA testing kits perform autosomal DNA tests because they check for genes that you inherited from both parents—regardless of your gender.2
By testing for certain genetic markers, an autosomal test can:
Autosomal tests also tell you how your unique genetic makeup influences your physical appearance, personality, behavior, and health.
Accuracy is not the only measure of a reliable DNA testing company. You should consider other things before deciding, such as:
Companies usually offer at-home DNA testing kits for health, ethnicity, ancestry, and traits. You should order a test that gives you the specific results you’re looking for.
If you're more interested in uncovering your family roots and heritage, you should get a test that looks into your ancestral and ethnic origins.
But if you want to learn more about your health, a DNA health test is your best choice. Most available kits can assess your health risks and carrier status.
However, there are also kits that test for genetic traits that affect your health, like your metabolism, nutrition, and sensitivity to certain foods.
Keep in mind that your genes only partly influence your health. External factors like diet and lifestyle can still affect your overall health and wellness.
Go for companies that let you download your raw data. This allows you to better protect the privacy of your genetic information.
You can also upload this data to other DNA testing services. It can help you find more DNA matches and expand your family tree.
Before buying a test, consider the cost of genetic testing and if you’re willing to pay for them. This includes any fees you have to get more services.
Features that may require extra fees include health reports, creating or building larger family trees, and gaining access to public historical records.
It’s no use if you can’t connect with your DNA matches. A testing company should offer ways to contact potential relatives and family members.
A good company must also protect your privacy. You must have the choice to opt out of genetic matching services and hide personal information like your name.
Discovering how genes affect your health is crucial to DNA health testing. But so is knowing what you can do about these results.
Pick a test that offers actionable insights, such as how to reduce your genetic health risks and improve your overall health.
Ideally, you should pick a company that stores your genetic data, personal information, and DNA samples in ways you're comfortable with.
Some DNA companies may hold on to samples unless you ask them to be destroyed. Others destroy them as soon as they're done analyzing your DNA.
It’s essential that you figure out which company’s policies work best for you.
Genetic tests reveal information that can affect your next steps. An accurate DNA test ensures you’re headed in the right direction.
Let’s say you underwent ancestry DNA testing.
With the right results, you’ll be able to look into the historical records of places where your ancestors likely came from—and successfully build a family tree.
But if your reports are inaccurate, they can throw off your research. This can prevent you from uncovering your true genetic ancestry.
Another example is if you took a DNA test to see which diseases you’re at risk for. You need accurate results to be able to do something about them.
If your results are inaccurate, you might not make the right dietary changes or lifestyle choices needed to lower your health risks and improve your health.