Just like everything else in 2020, family gatherings this holiday season are going to be a lot different. Many of us have been away from our families for almost the entire year, and the isolation has made it clear that we need our loved ones to ground us and help us feel less alone.
Even if you can't be around your family this holiday season, there is a way to learn more about who you are and where you came from. You can build your family tree with a DNA testing kit!
When you learn stories about your ancestors, it's common to feel a greater sense of resiliency, connection, and belonging. Discovering your history can inspire rich conversation about your family's triumphs and struggles, and strengthen family bonds.
On top of that, DNA test kits now offer a service that allows you to get a better understanding of your health, genetics, origins, ethnicity, and traits. This helps you stay ahead of your genetic risks, and it gives you and your family even more things to talk about.
But which DNA test kit do you choose? You've probably seen ads for 23&Me and Ancestry®, so let's take a look at what they have to offer.
Both Ancestry® and 23&Me offer a basic DNA testing kit that determines your ethnicity. Each one can help you find where in the world your DNA comes from and connect you to living relatives that you never knew you had.
AncestryDNA® delivers a unique, interactive experience that can help you uncover your origins in over 1.000 regions, sometimes down to the city. It also offers more connections to relatives.
You can easily purchase an AncestryDNA® kit online and they will send the kit that includes a sample tube, a prepaid envelope to mail your sample back, a unique activation code, and instructions to show you how it works.
Once you receive your kit, you will need an online Ancestry® account if you don’t already have one. Each AncestryDNA® test must be linked to a unique account—one for each test. There is an exception for children and minors. When you enter your activation code for your DNA test into your Ancestry® account, you can easily manage and view your DNA test results and matches.
Your test results include a pie chart with percentages of your ethnicity estimate. The results could also potentially reveal how and why your family moved from place to place around the world.
It's very easy to use, and loaded with information. During the month of December, you can get AncestryDNA® on sale for just $59. For a dollar more, you can opt for the DNA + Family Tree Bundle to help you explore your family history.
This is a really cool part of the service. You can find documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, military records, and census data to help you build your tree and link each generation. Some of the details you will find are incredible, and you'll get a real sense of who your ancestors were.
23&Me: Ancestry + Traits can help you dig deeper into your ancestry with population-specific reports that give you a granular view of your ancestry background. It also offers curated content on the history, food, and popular travel destinations that are connected to your ancestry. It also automatically helps you build a family tree from your DNA relationships.
The ancestry composition report will help you discover where you come from broken down by region, not country. There are over 2,000 regions in their reports, and in some cases, they can break down your DNA origin down to the county level.
Like AncestryDNA®, the 23&Me: Ancestry + Traits kit includes a tube for you to spit in. Then, you register your collection tube by using the barcode provided and mail it back in a prepaid package. In about three to five weeks, you'll get an email alerting you that your reports are ready.
At that time, you can log in to your account to read your reports. The two kits are similar, but the 23&Me: Ancestry + Traits kit is the pricier one at $79. You also don't get the DNA insights that you get from AncestryDNA® that help you discover your family's story. The family tree on AncestryDNA® stands out significantly compared to 23&Me.
Our verdict: AncestryDNA® is a better deal and gives you a more interactive experience.
DNA kits aren't just about discovering your origins and building your family tree. They can also help you make better-informed health decisions. Both Ancestry® and 23&Me have the option to add health reports to your basic DNA kit so that you can find out your inherited risks for different diseases and conditions.
AncestryHealth® can help you stay one step ahead of your genetic risks. Your DNA results, powered by next-generation sequencing technology (NGS), will show if you’re at normal or higher risk for conditions like inherited breast cancer, colon cancer, and heart issues.
The reports generated from AncestryHealth® also give useful, practical insights into your inherited risks that you can't manage with diet and exercise, like inherited high cholesterol, iron overload, and digestive issues.
AncestryHealth® will help you track generations of your family's health, and the family health history tool will create a more complete picture about what runs in your family. You can easily create, download, and share the reports with your loved ones and health care providers.
To get a more complete picture of your health using your genetic data, another option is 23&Me: Health + Ancestry. They also offer a personalized breakdown of your health predispositions, carrier status reports, and wellness reports.
23&Me: Health + Ancestry also shares what your DNA says about different lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and sleep. Just like with AncestryHealth®, you can use the info to help you make informed health decisions.
The cost of 23&Me: Health + Ancestry is $129, and that price includes 23&Me: Ancestry + Traits.
Our Verdict: While both AncestryHealth® and 23&Me: Ancestry + Traits offer similar services, we still think AncestryHealth® is the better deal. The price is right, it's easy to use, and the overall experience is just a bit better.