Are you looking for a personalized gift for a loved one? You can’t get much more personal than DNA. Here’s our lowdown on DNA testing kits.
When we were kids and wanted to learn more about our families, we’d likely sit down with our parents and grandparents and ask them questions. They’d tell us where our ancestors were from, what made them immigrate to America (or elsewhere), and perhaps even where they first landed. Our parents’ knowledge came from their parents, and the ability of our grandparents derived from their parents. History was word of mouth – whether true or not.
Nowadays, we have a more accurate of finding out our origins: DNA testing. While DNA testing has been available for a while, today, it’s easier than ever. In the early 2000s, a now-defunct company named Genetree came out with direct-to-consumer genetic DNA testing. It started with paternity testing and later moved to multi-generational DNA testing, enabling customers to learn more about their origins, health risks, and more. In 2007, 23andMe began offering saliva-based DNA testing and was the first to implement autosomal DNA for ancestry testing. Today, multiple companies offer DNA testing, and this year alone, it’s estimated that over 12 million people underwent DNA testing for genealogical purposes.
With so many companies, it can be hard to know what DNA test kit to choose: some focus solely on ancestry, while others concentrate exclusively on paternity. Some DNA test kits specialize in health and can tell you which diet is best for you.
Whether you want to know who your biological parents are, what diet is best for you, or where your ancestors originated, here are the best DNA kits for you:
1.) Nutrisystem DNA Blueprint Kit
At its core, Nutrisystem is a weight loss company. It started by offering a 28-day program that delivered meals directly to your door. You can’t get more convenient than that! The company provided breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, allowing you to add side items such as fresh fruit and veggies throughout your day.
In July 2018, Nutrisystem took its weight loss program by offering DNA Body Blueprint. DNA Body Blueprint is an at-home DNA testing kit that aims to “unlock your body’s weight loss secrets” to provide you with a more personalized weight loss program specific to your DNA.
How Does Nutrisystem Differ From Other DNA Kits?
Nutrisystem DNA specializes in weight loss. Its goal is to analyze your DNA to tell you what diet is best for your body type. “By providing a personalized overview that is the ultimate roadmap for an individual’s ongoing nutritional needs, this product delivers on our mission of helping consumers make more informed choices and achieve outcomes that drive overall health,” commented Dawn Zier, President and CEO of Nutrisystem, Inc.
“This groundbreaking use of DNA technology is a major step forward in weight loss, maintenance, and personalized nutrition. Consumer interest is high, and we believe this product will attract new consumers to our brand and allow us to extend our relationship with them as they transition from weight loss to an ongoing healthy lifestyle.”
How Does Nutrisystem’s DNA Blueprint Kit Work?
Nutrisystems is easy and involves a cheek swab like most in-home DNA kits. Here are what its instructions ask you to do:
- Create a Nutrisystem account (if you haven’t already) and register your DNA kit
- Swab your inner cheek; this will collect cells containing your DNA
- Put your DNA sample in the addressed, stamped envelope
- Mail the envelope back to Nutrisystem
Seriously – it’s that easy!
What Will Nutrisystem’s DNA Blueprint Kit Tell You?
Nutrisystem’s DNA Blueprint Kit aims to discover more about your genetic makeup to cater to a diet plan specific to your body’s needs. The DNA Blueprint Kit will analyze specific genetic markers related to weight gain and weight loss and use them to assess:
- Your metabolism
- Your eating behavior
- Utilizes macronutrients
- How your body processes vitamins and minerals
- Body Response to exercise
Once the results are processed, Nutrisystem will send you a 30-page report. It will include suggestions for what you should and shouldn’t eat and additional tips on what your genetics will most benefit from while on your weight loss journal. For some people, this means embracing a more vegan lifestyle. For others, this may mean enjoying more low-carb recipes or cutting out dairy. Everyone is different.
If you are looking for an ancestry DNA kit, keep looking. This is not the DNA test kit for you. However, if you want to learn more about how your DNA can help you lose weight, this is the best testing kit on the market. While competitors offer similar services, they are less detailed than Nutrisystem’s.
Ancestry.com has been around for years. If you’ve ever researched your ancestry and created a family tree online, you’ve probably used Ancestry.com. It is the largest genealogy company in the world and has access to over 16 billion historical records. In 2012, Ancestry.com increased its service offerings with Ancestry DNA, an in-home DNA kit that analyzes your DNA to tell you where your ancestors are from.
How Does AncestryDNA Differ From Other DNA Testing Kits?
AncestryDNA specializes in family history and genealogy. Unlike some of the other companies on our list of best DNA kits, AncestryDNA will not provide health-related information. It will tell you where your ancestors are from and enable you to connect with other members who share your DNA. As it has DNA from more than five million customers, it is the best DNA kit for you if your goal is to find out where your ancestors are from and connect with long-lost relatives who share your DNA.
AncestryDNA’s extensive database is another factor that differentiates it from the competition. The more samples a database has, the more accurate its results can be.
How Does The AncestryDNA Kit Work?
AncestryDNA is a simple saliva test and, like all of the DNA kits we reviewed, is quick and easy to use.
- Order your kit
- When your kit arrives, go online and register its unique code
- Fill in your name, click “activate,” and consent to the company’s service terms. You can also link your kit to your family tree if you have already created one.
- Collect your DNA by spitting it into a plastic tube
- Put your DNA sample in the addressed, prepaid envelope and mail
- You’ll receive an email once your samples arrive at AncestryDNA’s lab and are ready for testing
- Within a few weeks, you’ll receive an email notifying you that the results are ready
- Go online and view the results
What Will AncestryDNA Tell You?
Your AncestryDNA results will look at 350 regions (296 of which are in Europe) and tell you where your ancestors came from. It’s ideal for people with European heritage who want more clarity into where their ancestors are from. It can even be as specific as telling you what country your ancestors came from in Ireland.
In addition to ancestry mapping, AncestryDNA will compare your DNA to other members in their database and identify potential relatives. It estimates your relationship, gives you confidence in the match, and allows you to interact with these relatives.
AncestryDNA is the best DNA testing kit for people who want to learn about their ancestry and connect with relatives. If you don’t care about health data and are more focused on making connections and building your family tree, this is your best DNA test kit.
MyHeritage started as a genealogy service and later expanded its service offerings to include DNA testing.
How Does MyHeritage Differ From Other DNA Testing Kits?
While most of the in-home DNA testing companies on our list differentiate themselves by providing additional services and testing options, MyHeritage is the opposite: it differs by only offering the bare minimum but at a more affordable price than its competitors.
It also offers free family tree software and the option to upload raw data. Using another DNA testing kit, you can upload this data into MyHeritage’s system.
How Does MyHeritage Work?
MyHeritage is simple to use and will generate results faster than competing DNA test kits.
- Activate your kit online
- Swab your cheek
- Return to MyHeritage via enclosed envelope
- Wait 3-4 weeks, and you’ll have your results
What Will MyHeritage Tell You?
As we mentioned, MyHeritage specializes in ancestry and will give you an overview of where your ancestors are from, but the competitor report is more detailed.
MyHeritage pulls from 42 graphic regions and presents your findings via musical animation, showing you where your ancestors lived on a globe. However, you cannot dig any deeper or find out if you have any DNA matches.
MyHeritage is a very basic ancestry DNA test kit. If you are only interested in knowing your ancestry and don’t want to spend much money, this is the best DNA test kit for you. However, if you want to know more about genetic health risks or connect with family members via DNA, you’ll be better suited to a different DNA testing company.
23andMe is one of the better-known DNA testing kits on the market. Named 23andMe, after the number of unique chromosomes a person has, it provides autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y-DNA testing to provide insights into your genetics and ancestry.
How Does 23andme Differ From Other DNA Kits?
2andMe is the only DNA test kit to offer health and wellness screenings in addition to autosomal testing. Its basic package, “Ancestry,” focuses on ancestry and divvying your maternal and paternal lines. It can even show you how much Neanderthal DNA you have!
The more deluxe package, “Health + Ancestry,” includes health screenings that can provide information on genetic illnesses, health risks, carrier status on health conditions, and any health risks that may run in your family.
How Does 23andMeWork?
The 23andMe sample collection kit is as easy as the other DNA test kits on our list. The company sums it up by saying, “Order. Spit. Discover.”
- Choose your kit. The saliva collection kit is the same for both services and should arrive within 3-5 days of purchase.
- Unlike other cheek swab kits, 23andMe asks you to spit into a tube.
- Register your saliva collection tube using the provided barcode
- Mail your DNA back in a pre-paid package
- You will receive an email in 6-8 weeks, letting you know your report is ready.
- Log in to your 23andMe account and read your results.
What Will 23andMe Tell You?
23andMe’s basic ancestry DNA kit includes 35+ reports, including:
- Ancestry Composition
- DNA Relatives
- Neanderthal Ancestry
- Maternal Haplogroup
- Paternal Haplogroup (if you have a Y chromosome)
A timeline feature will also be provided, which tells you how long ago your most recent ancestor lived in each region. 23andMe enables you to share and compare your DNA with other 23andMe users. It also has a family matching tool that will connect you with relatives whose DNA is on file.
Health + Ancestry
If you select the Health + Ancestry Plan, you will receive everything included in the Ancestry plan and information on genetic traits and health risks. Though it isn’t comprehensive, it is FDA-approved and provides you with 125+ reports and can let you know if you are predisposed to diseases such as Parkinson’s and late-onset Alzheimer’s. It also informs you of your carrier status for over 40 conditions, including cystic fibrosis.
Overall, 23andMe is a well-rounded DNA testing kit that provides an overview of your ancestry and information on your genetic makeup. The testing process is easy to use, and it’s fun to find long-lost family members you never even knew existed.
Have you ever used a DNA test kit to connect with relatives? Tell us in the comments!