How to Choose the Best DNA Test Kits for Yourself
Several years ago, home DNA test kits became all the rage among those who wanted to dig deeper into their genealogy and find out more about their roots. Today, they continue to be popular and have become even more affordable, but choosing the right one is tricky.
Below, we’ve put together some important information about DNA kits and what you need to know to choose the best one.
Why Buy Home DNA Testing Kits?
Some people get their DNA tested out of curiosity to discover as much as they can about their heritage. Others do a DNA test for more personal reasons, such as looking for extended family members who may be in the system or discovering new ones.
The last reason most people do these tests is to find out more about their health and what to potentially expect in the future.
Let’s go a little deeper into the three types of DNA testing available.
Types and Uses of DNA Tests
If you’re ordering a DNA test for your home, you’re most likely looking for one of the following three types of kits:
DNA Testing for Ethnicity
This type of test is done with the goal of tracing family history and ancestry. The full DNA test is done to give you a breakdown of your ethnicity and ancestry. This will break down your ethnic background into percentages and provide you with the migration patterns of your ancestors.
Many people are usually left quite surprised by these tests as they typically reveal that your ethnic background may be quite different from what you thought. Furthermore, you’ll learn about haplogroups, which we’ll discuss in further detail below.
DNA Testing to Find Relatives
Interestingly enough, with the best ancestry test, you can find long lost relatives through DNA testing. Furthermore, these types of tests could reveal relatives you didn’t even know you had. This is done by matching your DNA with others who’ve used the same service and chose to connect to matched relatives.
You’d be surprised by how many people have found relatives they had no idea existed. The key here is to choose a test kit that is very popular and has a broad database.
The Best Genetic Testing for Health
Many people turn to genetic testing to get a better idea of what conditions they should keep an eye on. However, this is a somewhat controversial reason to use these types of tests. For example, if they reveal that you’re predisposed to a late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, this may result in you doing more tests and becoming more and more stressed.
The critical point here is that even with the best DNA test kit, there’s no guarantee that you will develop this condition, even if you’re genetically predisposed to it. Furthermore, there’s always the possibility of false negatives and false positives, so we don’t recommend these tests unless you’ve consulted with your doctor, and they recommended it.
Thus, before looking for a home genetic test kit, make sure that you’re clear on the possibilities and what you want to learn. This will help you choose the ideal test for your needs and get the results you seek.
How Do DNA Testing Companies Work?
If you want to get a DNA test and learn anything listed above, you don’t need to worry about needles. The home kits that you order from these companies don’t require blood—your spit is more than enough to get the necessary genetic data. This is either by sending the saliva in a vial or using a rub to swab your mouth. The process behind the products in our best DNA ancestry test reviews listed above is straightforward because of this.
Each cell in our bodies contains the DNA genetic code that makes you unique—from the color of your eyes and hair, all the way down to the shape of your ears and the length of your fingers. It even reveals if you’re predisposed to high cholesterol, which, more often than not, leads to high blood pressure.
Put simply, you choose the company you want to work with. You then order a home kit, follow the instructions for gathering a DNA sample, send it in, and wait for your results.
Choosing the Best DNA Kit Based on What You’re Testing
Now, before we continue with the guide, it’s essential to know the key terms you’ll likely see while searching for a kit.
Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP)
This is among the most common types of genotyping. It refers to the measurement of variations in genes of single nucleotide polymorphism. The more that’s measured, the more variations can be analyzed, thus helping narrow down one’s risk for certain diseases, for example.
Autosomal DNA Testing
Most of the best DNA testing kits can be used by both men and women. This further means that the kit traces the lineage of the tested individual on both the paternal and maternal bloodlines.
These types of tests can be done only on men, and thus trace lineage only through paternal ancestry. Thus, the results will reveal information down the line of the father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on.
For women, the best ancestry DNA test is an mtDNA test that traces ancestry along the maternal line. Most people can trace back to their great-grandparents, but this DNA test can go much further.
It’s important to note the significant difference between the tests catering specifically toward women or men, and those that cover both. Autosomal tests can reveal information going back only four to five generations. On the other hand, the mtDNA and Y-DNA tests that focus only on one side of the line give more detailed information further back, though you then get less information on the overall family structure.
Once you’ve chosen the most accurate DNA test kit for your needs, you’ll get information on your haplogroup. In simple words, this is your ancestry clan traced deep into your family history. There are both female and male haplogroups going back all the way to prehistoric times. The first haplogroup was in Africa, then as the tribes traveled and left the continent, their DNA mutated, and new groups were formed.
Factors to Help You Choose the Best DNA Ancestry Test
There are several important factors to consider when choosing a company and a specific test. There are many companies out there, and many more types of tests from which to choose. How do you know what’s best?
This is especially important if you’re looking for extended lost relatives or you want to find ones you had no idea existed. By choosing the best DNA test for ancestry that offers the biggest pool of participants and data, you have a higher chance of finding a relative.
We aren’t talking about your social security number here, this is far more serious, this is your DNA. You must choose a trusted company that will not only protect your DNA but your results as well. Security should be of the utmost importance, not only with your DNA sample but your personal and medical information as well.
Furthermore, even with the most trusted, best DNA test kit, you must read all the information on how your genetic data will be used, even if it’s used anonymously, and how long they keep it. A recent example is how the genetic data from a genealogy service company was used to identify the leading suspect in a recent series of murders.
Different companies and tests give different types of results. As we mentioned earlier, you need to know what is important to you and compare DNA testing kits to find one that offers you the service and test you seek. From finding out your haplogroup or discovering new family members to seeing what your DNA reveals about your health, there are plenty of options out there. There are even DNA tests for pets.
There is quite a variety of price ranges, even for the best DNA test kit options. As with anything else, though, the higher the price, the more in-depth results you’ll get. So if you fall in love with an inexpensive test, make sure you review what you’ll be getting so you aren’t disappointed. Another misleading way to advertise these tests is to offer only limited access to results for a lower cost, but to get the full results, you have to pay more.
Ease of Use
Today, nearly every DNA test online works more or less the same. You order, receive a package, send a saliva sample, send it by post, and wait for information on the results.
Although the first steps are straightforward, it’s what happens after that complicates things. Some tests offer faster results than others. Also, reading the results and using them can be problematic if their system isn’t well organized.
Look for a company with an online database and specialists standing by to offer help in better understanding your results.
After the Test
If you chose the best DNA test kit for health and have received your results, always discuss the findings with your doctor. All health data should be taken with a grain of salt and shouldn’t replace professional healthcare consultations, findings, and recommendations.
Although DNA testing can give you and your doctor an indication of what health problems you are genetically predisposed to, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re something you should feel stress over. Speak with your doctor—they’ll help with recommended follow-up tests when necessary or any lifestyle changes if they feel there’s room to worry.
Even with the most accurate DNA test for ancestry, it’s crucial to keep in mind that through these types of tests, you only get an indication. They are developed, first and foremost, to entertain and give you a glimpse into your past and roots, so don’t expect them to magically give you a full family tree.
These test kits work according to their database and connect people who have used the same company for testing, so there’s no guarantee you’ll be connected with long-lost or new family members. Furthermore, those tested must agree to be contacted by potential family connections, and not everyone wants to be included in the database.
To Sum Up
There are plenty of options available, as you will see in many DNA testing kits’ reviews. With such a broad selection on the market, it can be challenging to choose the ideal kit for your needs without a little bit of help.
The very first step is to determine what you would like to learn from your kit. This will bring you one step closer to finding the one that provides you with the results you seek. The key is to work with a company that’s trustworthy, is transparent in its processes, and covers the factors that you’re most interested in.
We hope our review and buying guide has brought you closer to choosing among the best DNA test kits to suit your needs and has answered some of your most pressing questions.