Your comprehensive guide to what is included in these at-home tests
At-home genetic testing has been popular for some time now, and it’s not hard to see why. Who hasn’t wondered about their genetic heritage? There’s something innately romantic about the idea of tracing your lineage back through time, across continents and into unexpected directions. A cottage industry has emerged around this impulse, with most services requiring little more than a saliva sample and a couple of stamps.But not all DNA testing kits are alike. Some are better for people who want to get a clearer idea of their health and screen for specific conditions, while others appeal more to the armchair genealogist. Looking for a pointer or two? We’ve rounded up the best DNA testing kits on the market, making it easy for you to find the one that’s right for your needs.With some of the tests associated more on the health aspect be sure to read about all of the conditions this will be checking for so you aren’t told about health concerns you might not want to know about. These tests are just a report of carrier status and are no ways diagnosing you with a disease. Please discuss any findings you have with your doctor or geneticist.
Our Top Picks
1 Best Overall: 23andMe
23andMe is one of the most popular direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits out there, and for good reason. It’s virtually a prototype for everything these services can do, and do well, capable of tracing your lineage back to the days of Neanderthals while also screening for health risks like celiac disease and Parkinson’s. Simply follow the instructions, spit into the provided tube and wait for your personalized results to appear online.Reviews are glowing, with users relaying stories of long-lost relatives and family mysteries solved while praising its social aspects: If you discover new relations, you’ll get an opportunity to reach out to them (as long as they’ve also opted into this feature). One thing to bear in mind: At-home genetic testing kits are regulated by the FDA. Like its competitors, 23andMe isn’t allowed to interpret your genetic information—only report it.The 23andMe kit has two options you can buy just the genetic part which will tell you where your ancestors have come from or you can combine the genetic and health kit which will also report any diseases you might be a carrier for or if you have a greater risk of getting certain diseases based on similar people who share your genetic code. As a reminder, none of these tests are a diagnosis, just a report so any findings should be discussed with a medical professional.
2 Best for Health: TellMeGen
While 23andMe offers health screenings, it’s not as exhaustive as some competitor products specifically developed to provide preventative health data. TellMeGen is our top pick in this category, with genetic screening around more than 125 diseases and insight into how you’ll be affected by certain medications. After the initial sample is sent off, you’ll receive a detailed “healthmap” with a rundown of all your relevant medical information. A premium service is also available to connect users with genetic counselors, physicians, and nutritionists.Reviewers say that TellMeGen’s reports are highly detailed, and correctly identified health issues both known and unknown. One thing to remember: For health-related questions and concerns, it’s still best to consult your physician or a genetic counselor in person. Nevertheless, TellMeGen is a powerful tool for those who want to take a proactive approach to their heal
3 Best for Ancestry: AncestryDNA
AncestryDNA has been around for years, but only recently got into the at-home genetic testing game. With that said, it’s little surprise that it does an exceptional job helping customers uncover the details of their genetic line. With 1.4 million people in its online database, AncestryDNA draws from a larger pool of users than many of its competitors, giving buyers an opportunity to discover new family members and forge new relationships. Beyond that, however, it traces your genetic line up to five generations back and across 350 different regions.AncestryDNA is also more affordable than some of the other products on the market. Customers say its ethnic breakdowns are especially interesting, although the science behind it is still evolving. One note: AncestryDNA does not test for diseases, health conditions, or genetic mutations.
4 Best Budget: MyHeritage
MyHeritage is considerably cheaper than most competitor products, but it still packs plenty of robust detail. With an “ethnicity estimate,” matches with possible relatives and simple integration with online family trees, it offers many of the same features you’ll find with more expensive options. And since MyHeritage’s test is available internationally, it’s able to pull from an enormous sample size—making the results more accurate.One thing to know ahead of time: While MyHeritage is cheaper than other services, some features are hidden behind a premium content paywall. A paid membership may be required to access certain elements of your report.
5 Best for Serious Genealogy: Family Tree DNA
While most at-home DNA kits are made to appeal to the armchair genealogist, Family Tree DNA is one of the only direct-to-consumer services to sell three types of ancestry tests: Y-DNA, mtDNA and Autosomal. The first test, Y-DNA, is used to find information regarding your paternal ancestry; mtDNA, meanwhile, tests for your maternal line. Depending on your budget, Family Tree DNA offers both standard and “full sequence” packages, with varying levels of detail.For those who want to take a deep dive into their heritage, Family Tree DNA should be their first choice. Unlike some services, it also allows customers to opt out of sharing their data with third parties
6 Best Fitness: DNAFit DNA Test Kit
7 Best for Pets: Wisdom Panel 3.0 Breed Identification DNA Test Kit
If you’re more interested in your shelter dog’s ancestors than your own, the Wisdom Panel Breed Identification Kit is for you. This testing kit uses a simple cheek swab to figure out Fido’s breed makeup and even identifies a canine drug sensitivity mutation that can be critical during surgeries or other procedures. Their database includes more than 250 breeds (the largest you can find with any kit) and will identify pure breed ancestors up to three generations past. Just two to three weeks after you send in your dog’s DNA, you’ll see a breakdown of his or her breed makeup by percentage.Dog owners love Wisdom Panel, but some do note that it has limitations. Some results may include a “mixed breed” category that is undefined, but overall most owners say it provides fun, insightful information about their pup’s history.
8 Best Comprehensive Ancestry: National Geographic DNA Test Kit
If you want to go way back—like 500,000 years back—into your ancestry the National Geographic DNA Test is the way to go. After you submit a salvia sample you get your results in 4 to 8 weeks which will tell you a lot about your ancestors. This test checks for over 200,00 genetic markers which compares your DNA to 60 different populations to determine where your background most likely lies. This kit can also compare your DNA to historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and more so you can see if you might possibly be related.While this test is great at seeing where you came from (way past your great-grandparents) it doesn’t do the best job of your more recent lineage and it has no health aspect to it. One physician who reviewed the test on Amazon said that this has one of the most comprehensive technologies of tracing your DNA for past and future use, so he recommends signing up for this and seeing where the technology goes over the years.