Ancestry DNA Review:  What Secrets Can You Find in Your DNA?

Ancestry DNA Review: What Secrets Can You Find in Your DNA?

Ancestry DNA Review of home-use kits that can tell you secrets about your family you never knew

Ancestry DNA Review of home-use kits that can tell you secrets about your family you never knew

Tracking Your Ancestry DNA- Review

DNA is the genetic code that every single cell of every living being has. That genetic code can be used to find relatives, solve crimes, identify bodies and find health markers.

There are a lot of home DNA test kits around now.  I am going to give you a review of what they can – and can't do – and give you an ancestry DNA review of the kits my research tells me are the best.

An important caveat, right at the beginning:  DO NOT rely on a home test kit to make medical diagnoses or decisions!  A home test kit may turn up something you want to talk over with your doctor, but they are NOT a diagnostic tool!

paternal DNA Home test kitsWhat ARE They Good For?

From shows like CSI, we know DNA is used in forensic reports for crime scenes.  Your DNA can help identify who was at the scene.  Please note what is used for a court case is NOT a home DNA test kit!

DNA professional test kits can be used to identify bodies or parts of bodies, perhaps those found at archaeological digs.

Paternity tests are a big use of both home and professional DNA kits.

Another use is gene therapy or testing of health of embryos or even of parent prior to conception to learn the odds of inherited health concerns.  Today, many are being tested for health-related probabilities like cancer-carrying genes, and then taking action if they deem it necessary.

With Angelina Jolie's double mastectomy based on DNA results, women with family history of breast cancer often get tested.  I have a friend who had an 80% breast cancer marker, confirmed by professional DNA tests!  She elected a double mastectomy, given her family history.  She remains cancer-free and she and her family are happy and relieved with her decision.

Most Common for Home DNA Tests

The most common use of Home DNA testing kits is to find missing relatives.  The second is Paternity tests.  The third is to find possible health markers, to look into further.  I am going to give you an Ancestry DNA Review of home test kits to help you select one that works well.

Ancestry DNA Review of ways to check for relatives and lineage

testing your DNA is one of the ways to to check for relatives and lineage


Types of DNA That Are Tested

They all use a cheek swab or other collection of saliva.

The least costly is autosomal.

Autosomal tests are good to find living relatives, back to the third or possibly fourth generation.  We each have 23 pairs of chromosomes.  Autosomal tests check 22 of them.  Due to chromosomal mutations, the lineage investigation is limited to your great-great-grandmother.

The next test is on the paternal DNA.  This is only good for males.  Only males have the Y chromosome that gets tested.  Women have two X Chromosomes, and men have one X and one Y.  If you want to test the male side of your lineage and you are female, you can do that by recruiting a close known male relative, like a brother or cousin or father.

The way to test the mitochrondrial DNA (mtDNA) which comes from the mother, is the most costly of the Home DNA tests.  The results will show only the mother's lineage, but it will go back many, many generations.

Our hair color and racial features are contained in nucleic DNA.  mtDNA is in the outer and less fragile part of the cell.

Ancestry DNA Review: 98% of our DNA shows we are related to other animals

Ancestry DNA Review: 98% of our DNA shows we are related to other animals

Ancestry DNA can Reveal Who Your Relatives Are  

I am providing reviews of what the home kits can and can't do, along with my ratings of your best choices…doing these tests is growing in popularity and they make great gifts!

You may have heard it said the we are 98% like pigs or apes with our DNA.  Is that true?

Well, yes, in a way.  The thing is about 98% of our DNA is involved in making RNA, the workhorse delivery system of DNA as it makes proteins, it appears.  More research is being made into RNA and  what systems in the body are affected by it.  Memory could be a part, interestingly.

Proteins are what all living matter is made of.  It is important to consume the proper amount of protein in your diet, of course.  As well as the quick fuel-supplying carbohydrates and the slower fuel-supplying fats. (Too much can cause belly fat!)

If 98% are used in protein-building production of RNA, it is no wonder much of our DNA is shared with other living animals.  We all breathe, have heartbeats, digest, for instance.

What about the other 2%?  Those contain the genetic imprints for what you look like, and other inherited characteristics.  Humans have only that 1/10 of a percent that can differ.  When a match is less than that, they are probably related!  The closer the match, the closer the relationship.

Do we Have a Common Ancestor?

mt Eve is the name given to a very possible common ancestor we all share, from 200,000 years ago.  Based on mtDNA testing, everyone apparently is descended from this African woman.  The time could be 50,000 to 500,000 years ago, when you put in the potential error calculation.

How could this happen?  Most speculate that there was some catastrophic event that took place, like the Sumatran Mount Toda eruption 70,000 years ago, resulting in a 1000 year ice age.  Much of humankind could have been wiped out, with very few female survivors.  Possible, not proven.

DNA Test Kits

There are so many around now.  Perhaps it is the popularity of shows like CSI?  Perhaps it is just that it is a lot easier to test now.  The costs have come down a lot!  Here are the Ancestry DNA Reviews for top-selling home test kits:

My Heritage Home DNA Test KitMy Heritage 9.9

– best for finding unknown relatives


  • uses a cheek swab
  • matches with those who have used My Heritage as well as those who have uploaded other test results to My Heritage
  • extensive online genealogical community worldwide
  • Regular price $99, often found on sale for $69


  • autosomal testing, so good only for 3-4 generations of relatives Home DNA Test – 9.7

– also good for finding family trees


  • biggest database in the world with over 5X more geographical regions included
  • extensive migration information from other relatives found
  • Regular price $99, often found on sale for $79


  • Uses saliva collection, not cheek swab
  • Autosomal only, so good for only 3-4 generations of relatives

Vitagene Home DNA Test KitVitagene  9.4

– newer on the market; Interesting marketing concept;  All three DNA tests for good price.


  • cheek swab
  • all three DNA tests:  autosomal, mtDNA, paternal DNA
  • range of costs from $49 to $99 to $149 plus $79/month for high-quality supplements
  • Health and ancestry markers given:  personalized diet, exercise and supplement plan


  • newer, smaller database
  • business plan of identifying and then selling supplements they say are needed

23 and me

  • Not recommended.  This gives the same as others, for more money
  • Saliva test

Making a Choice

What are you looking for?  If you want to identify missing relatives, either of the first two will work well.

If you have ancestors from the British Isles, then Living DNA will be a good choice, especially with the updates as the community grows.

If you have concerns about family health issues and want a preliminary screening and/or are open to a diet, exercise and supplement recommendation or program, the Vitagene may be a good choice.  I recommend the mid-priced $99 version, unless you want to order their supplements.

present of Home DNA Test kitIDEA:

Give a beloved family member the gift of a DNA test today!  They will love it.

It is entertaining.  It can reveal lost relatives.  What a gift!

Share your comments and experiences please!

ancestry dna review

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Published by Annie Collyer

Annie is a mom of four, a business owner and blogger. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where they are both active volunteers in their community school district. She writes about designing our lives with proven design thinking principles. Join her in creating the life we each want.

  • Brittaney Verkuyl says:

    My mom could use this to find her missing lineage because my maternal grandmother was adopted. My mom has had such a hard time unsealing the records of my grandmother’s adoption. This may be what she needs to bridge that gap.

  • Paul says:

    Dear Annie,

    Wow this post is very interesting and informative. When you said “Well, yes, in a way. The thing is about 98% of our DNA is involved in making RNA, the workhorse delivery system of DNA as it makes proteins, it appears. More research is being made into RNA and what systems in the body are affected by it. Memory could be a part, interestingly.” Its really interesting and I am amazed to hear these information. Its all very new information to me.

    Your Friend,

    • Hi Paul, Science is so loaded with new things. And getting the information is becoming more and more accessible. It is good to know what a home test kit can and what it cannot do, isn’t it?
      I am a committed life-long learner, and to expanding my creative thinking. I believe it positively impacts every area of life.
      That led to my commitment to this blog and to sharing creative mindfulness for life design with you!

      • Paul says:

        Dear Annie,

        I am with you and want to be the same as you said “I am a committed life-long learner, and to expanding my creative thinking. I believe it positively impacts every area of life.” Knowing my DNA is part of this for me…who knows who I will find for a relative! I do agree we are not here to be average. Thanks for continuous motivation.

        Your Friend,

        • Hi Paul, I agree with you, average doesn’t cut it! We have this life to become all we can be, to make the contributions that are unique to each one of us. Learning and expanding our minds is part of the process for me, and I can see for you as well. Who knows, perhaps we are related? Which DNA kit are you thinking of getting?

          • Paul says:

            Dear Annie,

            Yet to decide and to be honest I think it will take time for me to purchase that. You blog is full of valuable information I do love to visit your blog often to get valuable information. Thanks again!

            Your Friend,

          • Hi Paul,
            Thank you for your comment!
            I agree with you, it is only when, and if, it is the right time for you, for any purchase to be right. I love having you visit and interact on this blog!

  • Lisa says:


    I am very interesting in tracing my DNA. I only know my heritage 3 generation back. I would really be interested to find out more, but have not quite pulled the trigger on it yet. I know several people that have done the testing and found out some pretty amazing things. Your post peaked my curiosity again. Thanks for all the great information!


  • Megan says:

    Thanks for a great DNA post. I am into my family history very heavily but am sitting on the fence with DNA testing. I have reservations due to legal implications. What will this DNA be used for? Who has access to it? What do you think about those issues?

    • Hi Megan,

      Thank you for visiting. I agree with you that privacy are big concerns with all of our information. You will see strict privacy policies with each of the DNA tests I recommend. The results are only for you! You choose what to do with them.


  • Michelle says:

    Oh wow, Annie, this article certainly taught me a few things. On the entertainment side, I did not know about Angela Jolie and her health issue, on the biological side – interesting, to say the least. I guess it certainly would help having one of those kits to do the testing in the privacy of your home. And the only downside would be to find out something that you might need to contact your medical counsel for advice.
    Great article, thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Michelle, These kits are especially useful for finding family you don’t yet know about. People who were adopted or have adoptees in their geneology. So many families whose records further back than a couple of generations. Perhaps you want to travel to a country you know your ancestors came from…how useful to be able to look up relatives while you’re there!
      As far as medical, a word of caution is in order. These tests are not ways to diagnose possible medical conditions or make medical or even family decisions. Consulting medical professionals is definitely the council of the day with this!
      Thanks for visiting!

  • ariel says:

    Hello Annie, It is so interesting to hear about all this as we ask these questions. I know for my sister-in-law because her family was enslaved, she only knows some information about her grandmother. I wonder if these tests would really help her trace her roots?
    in peace and gratitude, ariel

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