DNA tests are DIY options for recording and interpreting your DNA. Some tests focus on tracing your linage, while others focus on the health aspects of DNA testing. While there used to be only one or two tests available, there are now dozens on the market.
To help you choose the best one, we ranked the best DNA tests currently available.
AncestryDNA was one of the first DNA tests on the market, and they are still one of the most popular options for those looking to trace back their ancestors. Their DNA test syncs directly with their extensive database of historical records, allowing you to trace your ancestry using both methods.
AncestryDNA can also connect you with distant cousins and find other family members by matching your DNA. For these reasons, it is our #1 pick.
2. 23andMe Health and Ancestry
23andMe focuses on both health and ancestry, with a different specific DNA test for each. Their health and ancestry test is their oldest and most popular option. It provides information about your genetic likelihood to get certain diseases as well as reports on your ancestry.
The test comes with ten different reports, including one for celiac disease and one for Type 2 diabetes.
3. 23andMe Ancestry and Traits
This is a slightly less expensive option for their health test. It includes only information about your ancestry and certain traits they can test for genetically. This test does not include the accessible health information their other analysis comprises.
However, you can upgrade this test at any time to include health information.
TellmeGen is a newer test on the market. It tells you everything from your ancestry to your tolerance to alcohol. They are continually updating their database and revealing new things you can learn from your DNA.
All their advances are made available for free to those who have already taken their test.
GenoPalate is a different kind of genetic test that checks your likelihood of certain nutritional deficiencies.
According to what deficiencies you’re likely to have, it recommends certain foods. Some options even come with recipes designed around the food you should be eating. It also checks for things like your alcohol metabolism rate and your gluten sensitivity.
6. Orig3n Vitamins DNA Test
While this DNA test is newer, it has gained a small following. It reads your DNA and identifies certain vitamin supplements that may be helpful based on your genetic dispositions. Based on your results, you can also order personalized vitamins from their online store.
This company also has tons of other DNA tests as well, some of which made our top 10 list.
7. Orig3n Fitness and Nutrition Test
When you purchase these two separate tests together, you can get a nearly complete view on how your genes related to muscle strength, exercise recovery, metabolism, and performance. If you’re an athlete, there is no better test to get.
With that said, this test is very focused on what it looks at, which only makes it suitable for professional athletes or those who are really into fitness.
8. Dante Labs
Dante Labs records your whole genetic sequence, which may be helpful for future developments in the genetic field. It gives you insight into common diseases you may be prone to, as well as information on specific food intolerances, allergies, and even personality.
You can also receive information on your body’s nutritional needs and exercise optimization.
9. Orig3n Child Development
This test landed on our list due to its unique nature. This test is designed to be given to children, and then informs their parents of certain dispositions they might have according to their genetic makeup.
These insights range from the ability to learn new languages to their taste preferences.
10. Orig3n Beauty Test
Another test by Orig3n – this one is designed to let you know all about your skin.
This information can help you perfect your skincare routine and learn helpful tidbits of information like how sensitive your skin is to sun exposure.
How We Ranked
The very first thing we considered when ranking each DNA test was its accuracy. Some tests are more accurate than others. Of course, when you’re taking a DNA test, you’re hoping for actual results. Because of this, we ranked well-known DNA tests that have been proven to be accurate very high on the list – like AncestryDNA and 23andMe. These DNA tests are the big players on the field for a reason and have had their accuracy proven again and again.
Some of the other DNA tests we reviewed are newer, and therefore do not have much accurate information to go on. In these cases, we relied on customer reviews, especially customers that had received a DNA test from a different source as well.
Secondly, we also considered how much information the test gave you. Some tests focus on health, others focus on ancestry, and still, others focus on something completely different. We didn’t necessarily take into account what the analysis focused on since everyone is looking for something different in their DNA test. However, we did consider how many different data points the test provided. A health test with 22 various reports is going to rank higher than one with 6, for instance.
Thirdly, we considered how much the DNA test cost. Most DNA tests are around $100, but others can cost upwards of $200. Sometimes, the extra cost is worth it if the test provides more information about your health or ancestry. However, we did knockdown tests that charged more without giving any clear extra benefit.
Finally, we took into account how easy the test was to use. Most tests are generally easy to understand and straightforward to use. The vast majority had apps where you could view your results and clear instructions on how to send in your sample.
With that said, some did not. Sometimes, the instructions were difficult to understand, or the information provided after the test was process was nearly impossible to interpret.
While reviewing each test, we also thought about different factors, like how long testing took and how good their customer service team was. Some tests had factors that caused them to drop a couple of rankings, like the availability of tests at Orig3n, for instance. Other tests provided new information for free to those who had already taken their tests.
These factors didn’t fit neatly into any category, but we did consider when ranking each product.
DNA tests can provide information about your likelihood of developing a specific disease. Science has known for a while that there is a genetic link to particular conditions, including things like celiac disease (1) and diabetes (2). Some forms of cancer have been linked to genetics as well, and we will likely discover even more links as the science progresses (3).
However, it has been difficult for this information to be of much use to the general public. Doctors cannot test all of their patients for all genetic disorders, which has left genetic testing mostly in the realm of high-risk prenatal care. Even then, though, genetic testing is often expensive and not covered under most insurance plans.
With the creating of direct-to-consumer DNA tests, the average person can now check their DNA to links to health problems. This information can help prevent those health problems from forming or staying on the lookout for them. For example, if you have an increased risk of cancer, regular testing might be in order. Those who are prone to diabetes might need to keep a close eye on their diet.
DNA tests can help locate long-lost family members. Many DNA tests can match users as distant cousins based on their DNA profile. You can find long-lost family members in this manner and get help filling out your family tree. You can also learn things like where your ancestors came from and your country of origin.
While this information might not provide any direct benefit, many people enjoy having this information, especially if you are interested in your family tree.
DNA tests might help you stay healthier. Some argue that DNA tests allow consumers to make more accurate health choices and make better preventative choices (4). Consumers who know they are genetically more likely to be deficient in a particular vitamin may be more likely to take a supplement or eat foods high in that vitamin, for example. Many DNA tests revolve solely on nutrition. These tests often include information on foods the user should eat as well as sample recipes.
Some tests also include information about exercise and muscle recovery, which can be useful for those who work out. Of course, how consumers use this information is solely up to them.
DNA tests can be a source of empowerment. Studies have shown that users who use genetic testing are more empowered to take control of their health and feel more “in control” (5).
This particular study is one of the few that followed up with those who took DNA tests over the long-term. In all, 2240 participants were included, though only 1325 returned for a follow up after one year.
Even when the results of the test were interpreted as “bad” by the participant, very few experienced test-related distresses. More than 80% of those who take a genetic test derive some sort of personal satisfaction and empowerment from the test, no matter what the test results came back as. Even those with these negative results did report empowerment and satisfaction some of the time.
DNA tests can help your doctor. The same study we previously discussed also discovered that some participants shared their test results with their doctors, who were then able to use the results to guide their medical treatment (5).
Whether or not the participants shared the test results as not affected by what the test said, but was affected but the perceived utility of the test. In other words, if the participants thought the test would change their treatment in some way, they shared it with their doctor. However, those who received a “negative” result did not share the findings with their doctor if they didn’t think anything could be done about it. An excellent example of this was cancer risk, which many participates considered to be set in stone.
Despite the sharing of the test results, though, it is unclear whether or not the results affected the participant’s treatment. The study does not outline whether or not the doctor took the test results into account since only the participants were asked about the effects of their test. Because of this, it may very well be that the participants interpreted the test results as being important enough to share with their doctor, but the results may not have actually been used in the long-run.
It is also possible that the doctors did not take the test results seriously, and therefore ignored them when coming up with a preventative treatment plan for their patient.
DNA test are not associated with any long-term psychological risk. There have been some arguments that DNA tests might cause anxiety or stress related to health, especially if they point out a predisposition to a specific disease.
However, in studies that have followed up with patients long-term, there was no reported long-term risk associated with these tests (5). Because of that, we can safely debunk this conventional argument.
DNA tests provide an outlet for consumer education. According to the Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics, DNA test offers an accurate outlet for consumer education (6). Most DNA tests point out common genetic conditions, such as diabetes, and provide information to their users about these conditions. This information can be beneficial for consumers who might be at risk for these diseases. After all, you are the first to realize something is wrong with your body. If you know the warning signs, you are much more likely to reach out to your doctor and request testing.
Even if the DNA test turns out to be inaccurate, this primary health education can be beneficial and potentially also save lives in the case of deadly conditions, like cancer.
Furthermore, these tests also provide necessary information about genetics and their role in health, which can only have long-term benefits.
DNA tests may cause genetic discrimination. There are very few laws governing how the data of DNA tests can be used, which can sometimes be a problem for consumers. For example, some laws restrict health insurers and employers from discriminating against specific populations based on their genetic testing. However, this law does not cover life insurance, long-term car insurance, or disability insurance (7).
While the insurance company has not seen the backlash from these poorly written laws yet, it could very quickly see genetic discrimination in the future. Thus far, there have been no reports on discrimination based on genetics (8).
DNA tests are not covered by any laws that protect privacy. Many DNA test companies claim that they will never sell your DNA to a third-party. However, this is mostly because of in-house policies that have a wide-range of strictness. There are no actual laws currently that say your DNA must stay private. In many cases, this may not be a problem. However, in particular circumstances, like when a DNA testing business shuts down, no laws are governing what it should do with its samples and information.
Furthermore, because it is shut down, it is no longer required to follow its internal policies – because it has gone out of business and no longer has any internal policies. This can potentially cause problems (9).
Currently, it does not appear that any law protecting DNA from being sold is going to come to fruition. Many argue that such a bill could significantly increase the cost of genetic research and halt smaller research products that rely on these DNA testing companies for data. The University of California even released a formal letter against a proposed bill that increase the level of consent required to sell someone’s DNA (10).
DNA tests are not anonymous. Many companies will claim that your results are entirely anonymous and cannot be traced back to you. However, the exact nature of DNA testing makes it very easy to trace your sample back to you personally, even if the company does not store the DNA under your name. After all, you must have an account with any company to see the results of your test. The company has to send your test to your current address, and you often purchase these tests with a credit card, which has your name on it.
Even though these tests often claim to be anonymous, there has been more than one occasion where law enforcement has used test results to locate a suspect (11). If law enforcement can do it, it means that other parties likely can as well.
DNA tests might come with an emotional cost. It is somewhat likely that DNA testing might causes negative psychological results, like anxiety and depression. If you receive an unfortunate result, like an increased risk of cancer, for instance, it can cause some people to feel anxious about the future.
Individual professionals fear that there might be an increased rate of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among those who receive poor testing results (12).
With that said, it is unlikely those with a healthy mental state will suddenly develop clinical depression just because their DNA test results were less than stellar. Often, these results will occur in those that already have some sort of mental illness or who are prone to mental illnesses. If you’re already anxious, getting a DNA test might make your anxiety increase. In these cases, it is essential to work with your doctor.
As we have stated previously, some studies have found that there was no increase in anxiety or distress related to receiving the results of a DNA test. However, there may need to be more studies before you can definitively say that everyone is safe from the potential stress-inducing nature of DNA tests. There have not yet been any significant studies done on potentially at-risk populations, like those with depression and anxiety.
DNA tests are not always correct. Practically all DNA tests undergo in-house testing for accuracy before they are released to the public. The exact testing they experience and the benchmarks for that testing vary from company to company, though. Some companies are more rigorous and pickier about their tests than others. There is no current FDA approval required before releasing a test to the public, which means that all tests only meet their company’s particular guidelines (13).
Furthermore, the quality of the science behind some of these test results have been called into question. Many companies advertise that they check for specific genetic markers to discover whether or not you’re prone to certain diseases. While many conditions have been linked to genetics, the exact science behind testing for these genetic markers is not well established (14). In other words, while some illnesses do relate to your genetics, we don’t always know how much specific genes play a role or which particular genes are involved.
How you should go about using your DNA test results depends on the reason you’re getting the test in the first place.
DNA tests are a fun option for some consumers, especially those who are interested in ancestry. Many people choose to get a DNA test for no medical reason at all. Sometimes, they’re interested in their family’s past, and other times they might just be curious about the possibility of meeting distant family members. For these potential users, how they receive their DNA test and how they interpret and use the results is entirely up to them.
While it is important to remember that tests aren’t always accurate, there is typically no problem with a few inaccuracies in these cases. Feel free to interpret the data however you wish and use it to continue tracing back your family free.
Those that are using the test for health purposes have to be a little bit more careful, however. If you’re concerned about a particular disease, you should, of course, speak with your doctor about it. Doctors can often test for specific genes if they have been heavily associated with certain types of cancer or other illness. If you know that someone in your family has a troublesome gene, be sure to let your doctor know.
Otherwise, if you’re just interested in your health, there is typically no problem in ordering a DNA test. You can share the results with your doctor if you like, though there is little evidence that this will change your treatment outcomes. If you have a mental illness like depression, you may want to speak with your doctor before ordering the test, especially if you are worried about getting a negative result.
Always remember that DNA tests aren’t always accurate, and just because your genes might make you prone to a disease doesn’t mean you are going to get it. In many cases, the environment matters only as much, if not more than your genetics.
Which DNA test is best?
DNA tests on the market are currently designed to do a few different things. Some DNA tests focus on your ancestry, while others focus on your health. Which DNA test is best for you depends mainly on what you want your DNA test to do.
For ancestry, we recommend the AncestryDNA test. This test can sync with their massive database of historical records, which allows you to make the most out of the test results. It is also one of the most longstanding DNA test companies, giving them plenty of time to perfect their process and bring you the most accurate results possible.
From a health perspective, we recommend 23andMe. This was one of the first DNA tests to come on the market and focus almost exclusively on what your genetics say about your health. They provide tons of information about a variety of health conditions and markers in your genetic code.
How accurate are DNA tests?
This depends on the test. There is no overlying agency policing how accurate a company’s DNA test has to be, and the tests do not have to pass any sort of FDA-approved test. Because of this, you must rely on the company to prove that their tests are accurate. You have to trust the company’s word that they properly tested their DNA testing process.
With that said, many DNA testing companies claim that their results are 99.9% accurate. While there is no outside source that double-checks this information, 99.9% is quite a bit.
Which DNA test is better 23andMe or Ancestry?
It depends on what you want the DNA test for. Ancestry is better for finding long-lost family members and tracing your ancestry. However, if you want health information, 23&Me is likely the best option. This company was one of the firsts even to offer health-related DNA tests, and they have had a long time to perfect their craft.
This may change in the future, though, as the world of DNA testing tends to change quite rapidly.
How are DNA tests done?
DNA tests are usually done with your saliva, which contains your DNA. Some companies require you to spit into a tub, while others ask you to swab the inside of your cheek. Both methods are very similar and produce similar results.
No matter how the sample is collected, all companies usually send them to an outside laboratory for testing. However, some companies have their own DNA testing laboratories that handle their tests.
Will siblings have the same DNA results?
No. Siblings will both get genetic information from their parents, but the exact pieces they get from each parent will differ. This means that their DNA test results will often differ at least somewhat, even in terms of ancestry testing. Since specific genes are tied with certain geographical regions, each sibling can have a slightly different ancestry result.
Siblings will vary even more when it comes to health testing. Each parent will likely have different genes concerning health. This means that the siblings could potentially inherit different genes from their parents, which would change their health outcomes. Sometimes, health tests are somewhat similar, especially if the parents are from the same area or have the same heritage. However, the more genetically diverse the parents, the more genetically different their children will be.
How many generations back is 2% DNA on a DNA test?
2% is about six generations back, which would be your Great Great Great Great Grandparent. To figure out how many generations a certain genetic percentage is, you just have to continuously half the rate. For example, one generation back (aka your parents) is 50%. Your grandparents are 25%. Your great grandparents are 12.5%, and so forth. Just keep halving the percentage.
How much DNA do parents share with their children in a DNA test?
Each child inherits about 50% of their DNA from their parents.
How many generations does autosomal DNA go back on a DNA test?
Autosomal DNA is passed on from each parent to their children. You get 50% autosomal DNA from your mom and another 50% from your dad. Because the percentage you get from each of your grandparents halves as you move further back in time, this DNA can only take you so far back. Typically, you can go back at least five or six generations. However, you can occasionally go back up to 10 generations.
What is the difference between the 23andMe and AncestryDNA DNA tests?
23andMe offers multiple different testing options, all of which mostly revolve around your health. On the other hand, AncestryDNA focuses much more on genealogical testing. If you want to test your health, get a test from 23andMe. If you’re going to trace back your ancestry, get one from AncestryDNA.
How far back does ancestry go on a DNA test?
Each generation you go back, the amount of DNA you receive from your ancestors halves. Because of this, at some point, the percentage gets so small that it’s impossible to read or interpret. You cannot go back continuously because of this fact.
Generally, you can get five or six generations back with a DNA test. Sometimes though, you can go as far back as ten generations.
Do you inherit more DNA on a DNA test from your mother or father?
Technically, you should inherit about 50% from both parents. However, this is only true for autosomal DNA, which is the kind that combines at fertilization. However, you inherit mitochondrial DNA from your mother alone. This DNA is in tiny organelles that live inside your cells. At one point, these cells were likely separate organisms, hence why they have different DNA from us. However, they eventually evolved alongside us to become part of our bodies. This is why they carry different DNA, which is passed on directly from mother to child.
Different DNA tests check for different DNA. In many cases, autosomal DNA is what most DNA tests look at. However, you can also et your mitochondrial DNA tested in certain situations. This DNA is often very helpful for figuring out ancestry since it does not change from generation to generation.
Can you share DNA on a DNA test and not be related?
Yes, but only very rarely, and it depends on how far back the supposed shared ancestor is. Things like paternity tests are hardly ever wrong since the likelihood of sharing 50% of your DNA with someone who you aren’t related to is extremely low. However, you only share a small sliver of DNA with your distant cousins. You only share DNA with your 4th cousin, about 50% of the time.
Because of this, it is possible to end up sharing a bit of DNA with someone when you aren’t related to them. The more distant you get, the more likely this is to occur. Some DNA tests will mark these people as your cousins, though you may not be related.
Can two people have the same DNA?
It is widespread knowledge that identical twins have the same DNA. However, this is usually not true (15). The environment can have huge effects on some of your genetic code, especially before you are born. Toxins in the womb and other environmental factors can directly change certain pieces of your genetic code before you are born, resulting in different DNA sequences for identical twins.
Your genetics can also be directly affected by environmental factors after you are born. Radiation is the most aggressive form of this, but smaller toxins like pesticides can alter your genes as well.
DNA tests are entirely new but have gained increasing popularity over the last few years. They can tell you about everything from your ancestry to specific genes that might be affecting your health. With new tests coming on the market every day, though, it can be challenging to figure out which are the most accurate and worth buying. We picked out ten of the best tests on the market to help you pick the correct one for your situation.
For FitBug’s #1 recommended DNA test, click here.