In This Article
In This Article
When it comes to DNA tests, accuracy is one of the most important things to look for. But there's no easy way to know which one is the most accurate.
Several factors can affect the reliability of your DNA test results. These include:
The research used to back your DNA report may also affect its accuracy.
Ultimately, no DNA test is patently inaccurate. However, some DNA testing companies are more reliable than others.
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Inside it is genetic information passed down to us by our parents and grandparents — all the way to our ancestors.
Genetics dictate which traits and characteristics a person will have. Each person has different sets of genes. This is what makes us unique.
DNA testing or genetic testing shows you which genes you have and what they mean. It can tell you more about your:
You can also use DNA testing kits to find lost and distant relatives, or to trace your genealogy (family roots). They allow you to track maternal and paternal lines.
If you took a health test, your DNA analysis may include health recommendations such as:
Keep in mind: The DNA test kits we covered in this article are taken at home.
They are not given by doctors or health professionals. So you shouldn't use them to provide guarantees, replace medical tests, diagnose illnesses, or substitute medical advice.
That said, at-home DNA tests provide helpful information that you can use to improve your health. You'll also learn fun-to-know facts, like why you have a distaste for certain food.
All in all, genetic testing is a great way to know more about yourself. To save you time, we looked into the top at-home DNA test kits to find out which ones are the most accurate.
A person's ethnicity or ethnic origin has something to do with their race. It can influence your biology and genetics.1 Racial background can affect your:2,3,4
Some tests look at your single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to estimate which racial group you belong to. For example, they can tell if you're 50% European and 25% African.
Others use SNPs to approximate your ethnicity based on geography. For example, you might have a 27% genetic match with people from Norway but only 2% with people from Wales.
For accuracy: You may want to use tests that compare your SNP pattern with the DNA of people from the same area. Native inhabitants of a region tend to have similar phenotypes or observable traits, like height and blood type.3
Here are the top DNA kits for exploring your ethnic identity.
Ancestry DNA Test Pros
Ancestry DNA Test Cons
Additional services can get expensive. But their massive database makes them one of the most trusted DNA tests. You can learn more about AncestryDNA here.
My Heritage DNA Pros
My Heritage DNA Cons
It doesn't provide comprehensive ancestry DNA test results. But if you want a fun way to learn your ethnic background and family history, My Heritage does its job.
Ancestry refers to a person's lineage, ancestral origin, or line of descent. Some DNA tests trace your ancestors. They can also help you find distant relatives and lost family members.
Ancestry DNA testing uses different methods to explore genes:
Y-DNA and mtDNA testing can still be useful for genetic genealogy, like tracing ancestors and building family trees. But an autosomal test is more comprehensive.
Autosomal DNA tests check for single nucleotide variants (SNVs). SNVs can be inherited from both parents regardless of your gender.5
For accuracy: Choose at-home kits that perform autosomal DNA testing. However, some ancestral testing services may also offer mtDNA and Y-DNA testing.
Men may want to use tests that combine these methods. For women, autosomal and mtDNA testing may be enough. Based on this criteria, here are the best ancestry testing services:
23andMe DNA Test Pros
23andMe DNA Test Cons
23andMe does all three tests: mtDNA, Y-DNA, and autosomal. Combined with a massive DNA database, it's one of the most accurate tests for ancestry. You can read more about it here.
Living DNA Test Pros
Living DNA Test Cons
If you have ancestral origins from Europe, Africa, and Britain — it's the best DNA test kit for the job. You can read our review of LivingDNA to learn more.
Sometimes, our genes contain errors called genetic mutations. They can cause genetic disorders which you have from the moment you are born.
Examples include cystic fibrosis, phenylketonuria, and sickle cell anemia.6
Certain mutations also make you more susceptible to disease. They can increase your risk for illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer — among others.6
While these mutations don't always affect your health, you can be a carrier and pass them on to your children. A DNA test can:
DNA health testing can also uncover genes that influence your health in other ways. For instance, there are genes that impact your taste, metabolism, and sensitivity to foods.
For accuracy: Use autosomal DNA tests or those that combine it with mtDNA and Y-DNA testing. This allows you to check for DNA from your mother's and father's side of the family.
These kits can help you identify health risks and genetic conditions that you may have inherited from one or both parents. Here is the best DNA test for your health:
Autumn DNA Pros:
Autumn DNA Cons:
23andMe Health and Ancestry Pros
23andMe Health and Ancestry Cons
23andMe offers comprehensive DNA testing results for your health. Find out what you can do with your 23andMe DNA results.
If you want accurate results, there are three things to look for in a DNA testing service:
Most of the home DNA testing kits we recommend are from well-known companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Why? It's because they have more customers.
The more DNA test takers, the more genetic information a testing company has. It also means they have a large database to compare your DNA samples with.
This improves the test's accuracy and your chances of finding DNA matches. In turn, you're more likely to find distant relatives, lost family, and ancestors from places around the world.
Ancestry tests were traditionally performed using mtDNA and Y-DNA. Unfortunately, these testing methods have limitations.
Y-DNA is transmitted only by fathers to sons, while mtDNA is passed on by females to offsprings. At most, these tests can reflect origins from 1 paternal and 1 maternal ancestor.
We picked autosomal DNA tests because they're more comprehensive. The testing method can assess over 500,000 autosomal variants, also known as SNPs and SNVs.
Unlike mtDNA and Y-DNA, you can inherit autosomal DNA from both parents.
Ancestry DNA test kits that use autosomal DNA can tell you where they come from. They can also estimate the percentage of your ancestry from each region.5
For genetic ancestry, we picked tests that can provide information that matters most. This includes your recent ancestry (genetic genealogy) as well as your ancestral origins.
The best DNA test kits for health assess your genetic predisposition to rare and common conditions like Alzheimer's Disease — so we included them in our list.
Accuracy is not the only measure of a reliable DNA testing company. There are other things you should also consider as well, such as:
DNA companies offer tests for health, ethnicity, ancestry, and traits. Some kits only test for one of them. Kits like the 23andMe Ancestry + Traits Service test for several things.
You should order a test that gives you the results you need.
If you're more interested in learning about your family roots and heritage, you should get a test that looks into your ethnicity and/or ancestry. But if you want to know which health conditions you're at risk for, then a DNA health test is your best choice.
Keep in mind, however, that health and ethnicity are partly influenced by your DNA. Factors like culture, environment, diet, and lifestyle can still affect your overall health and wellness.
Go for companies that let you download your raw data. You can upload it to other DNA testing services to find more matches and expand your family tree. This way, you can make the most out of your DNA results.
Before buying a test, consider its cost and what you get from it. You should also see what fees you have to pay for other features — and whether you want to pay for them.
Features that may require extra fees include health reports, creating family trees, and access to public historical records.
DNA matches are of no use if you can't connect with people who share similar DNA. When finding distant relatives and lost family members, the testing company should offer ways to communicate with them.
Discovering your genetic risk for various health conditions is crucial to DNA health testing. But so is knowing what you can do about it. For these types of tests, pick one that offers actionable insights that you can follow.
For example, DNA companies may hold on to samples unless you ask them to be destroyed. Others destroy them as soon as they're done with DNA analysis.
It all depends on what you're looking for. The best DNA test kits for ethnicity and ancestry are those that help you learn more about your family, ethnic groups, and ancestors.
AncestryDNA and 23andMe are the best in this category.
But if you want to better understand your genetic health, you should go with DNA health tests. Our top recommendation is the 23andMe Health test.