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Ancestry vs. 23 and me: Which DNA test kit is best for tracing your family roots?


The treasured practice of examining old family photos and sharing the stories of generations past is one way to keep memories alive, as well as learning about family history. But some may not have access to these photos and memories, or may want to dive even deeper and turn to DNA testing services to build a more complete picture of your family tree.

AncestryDNA (a subsidiary of Ancestry.com) and 23andMe are two popular resources available to help you learn about your family history. They both require a saliva sample and analyze your DNA to infer where your family originated from. The analysis can also potentially detect relationships with other users based on their submitted samples. Additionally, the tests can also provide health and wellness reports with information on cancer risks, health predispositions, carrier status, and more.

We tested both DNA test kits. Here’s how to find out which one is best for you.

Read more: Best DNA Test Kits in 2020: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and More Compared


I tried the AncestryDNA kit, which costs around $ 109 after shipping (at press time), and it comes with a saliva collection tube and cap, a return bag, and a prepaid return label box. To register the kit, I downloaded the Ancestry app and scanned the barcode on the side of the collection tube. You can also register your kit online and manually enter the number.

When you create an account, the app asks for your consent for various items, including consent to process your sample, store the sample if you want to do future testing, and participate in research. The research includes conducting surveys and questionnaires that AncestryDNA says it will use to try to better understand human history and health.

Read more: What AncestryDNA Taught Me About DNA, Privacy, and the Complex World of Genetic Testing

I refused consent to store my sample or participate in research. AncestryDNA asks a few questions about your medical history. You can edit what information becomes public or private on the site and how you want other users to see your DNA if your DNA matches someone else’s. You will have the opportunity to review all the information before continuing.

Ancestry has 16 million user profiles, compared to 23andMe’s 10 million, which in theory should mean more accurate results. However, Ancestry does not use the standard mitochondrial DNA and / or Y chromosome methodologies that most others use, so we know less about how they actually analyze DNA.

After spitting into the tube, I mailed the kit in and confirmed it shipped in the app. The app “tracked” the kit’s journey from when it was received in the lab until it was processed and longer before it told me that my results were available.

The AncestryHealth report ranked first and was broken down into Notable Health Outcomes, Health Outcomes, and Wellness Outcomes. The reports include information on cancer risks, carrier status for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, and the health of your blood. The wellness reports are broken down to give you information about your vitamin levels, among other things.

Ancestry Health can flag potential health conditions based on the family history you completed or the variants found in your DNA sample. However, the site reiterates several times that the report it receives is not a diagnosis. The health exam is also not approved by the FDA.

Read more: In the future, not even your DNA will be sacred.

Outside of the health report, the evidence generated in Ethnicity Estimate Report, which showed the regions of the world my ancestors were most likely linked to. AncestryDNA estimated that my highest connection was England, Wales, and North West Europe. It also marked the Lowlands of Scotland, the North of England, and Northern Ireland. This area on the map was color-coded, along with the others my DNA was linked to. AncestryDNA’s Regions list has over 1,000 regions your sample is tested against, so you’ll see where your DNA didn’t return results as well. The report also included a brief history of each area.

AncestryDNA also tells you which other users your DNA most closely matches. He marked my aunt, who also used the site, as Close Family. The app allowed me to compare our ethnic estimates and gave me the option to send you a message.

I had already created a family tree on the Ancestry website, so it was interesting to link my DNA results to the tree. One downside was that the family tree look and the DNA look required two separate applications; However, the desktop version keeps everything in one place if you work in a browser.


Ancestry offers separately AncestryDNA and AncestryDNA traits kits. AncestryDNA ($ 99) will estimate and break down the regions where your family originated. AncestryDNA Traits ($ 119) includes everything the kit above offers, as well as information on how your genes affect your personal traits.


I tried the Health and Ancestry kit, at the time of publishing, which came with the saliva collection tube and cap, a return bag, and a prepaid return label box. Like AncestryDNA, 23andMe also required kit registration (in-app or online) prior to testing. I downloaded the app and scanned the barcode on the side of the collection tube. You can also enter the code manually.

The 23andMe kit asked for consent for various items when I made an account, like AncestryDNA did. I could store my sample for future testing, participate in research, get health reports, and I was able to share my step data from your fitness app to get a more complete view of your activity. I rejected all except the health reports.

Read more: Genealogy Site Credited For Helping Identify Golden State Killer Suspect

Unlike Ancestry, 23 and me does it They are approved by the FDA as a risk assessor for a handful of genetic conditions and diseases; If you are primarily interested in DNA testing for this purpose, 23 and Yo is the best option.

The app tracked my sample’s journey to the lab and the DNA extraction process. In the final report, which I was able to view on the mobile app or online, 23 and I divided most of my ancestry into European> Northwest Europe> French and German, British and Irish. The application tested 216 populations to generate the report.

23andMe can display the results on a timeline, so you can see roughly how many generations ago your most recent ancestor came from each region. For example, my results revealed a bit of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, but my timeline indicated that the relative would have been alive five or eight generations ago. You can also view your results as a chromosome painting, showing where on your chromosomes a specific region matches and how prevalent it is.

There were many facets to explore in the results. For example, 23 and I were given more information about each region that my DNA matched. If I touched the icon of each country, 23 and I would tell me about the history of the region and the migration patterns of people over time, and also provided resources to learn about the culture, ways to book an Airbnb to visit and other features. I was also able to search for possible relatives among 23 and Me users, and found my mother’s cousin.

The 23andMe health reports included predispositions, carrier status, well-being, traits, and a health action plan. Proven predispositions for Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, celiac disease, and more. The lab would test certain genetic variants. As with AncestryDNA, 23 and Me specified that the test results were not a diagnosis or a guarantee that a disease would not be diagnosed later. The wellness report included interesting items such as whether or not you are a deep sleep, how much you move while you sleep, genetic weight, and other factors. The traits report was particularly interesting. These detailed the likelihood that he could have a certain eye color, hate coriander, have freckles, hate the sounds of eating, be bitten more by mosquitoes, and other things. And a lot of that was fine! I would have had to pay more to learn about these features with the AncestryDNA kit.


If you choose 23andMe, you can choose from three different DNA test kits: Ancestry and Traits Service ($ 99), Health and Ancestry Service ($ 199)and a 23andMe Plus Membership ($ 169 upfront and $ 29 per year). All three products include ancestry reports, relative search options, trait reports, and family tree construction. Only membership 23 and Me Plus improved ancestry characteristics, pharmacogenetics reports, and consistent updates to existing reports. Additionally, Health and Ancestry also includes carrier status reports, health predispositions, and wellness reports. You can request more health reports through the basic service for an additional $ 125.

The bottom line

Ancestry is best known for its family tree feature. When you use their DNA testing service and integrate those results, you can see everything in one browser. Unfortunately, the information is also split into two different mobile apps, which is less useful. But overall, the tools of ancestry, including the ability to build a tree and link your health and DNA knowledge, definitely help paint a bigger picture of a person’s origins and can help facilitate a conversation with the newly discovered family members.

23andMe had a more user-friendly layout and presented its findings in a way that encourages you to dive into your (possibly newfound) heritage. However, it lacks the punch that Ancestry has when it comes to building your family tree. I was able to see a predicted tree, but it was sparse and only included me and 23 other users.

Since I was already familiar with the origins of my family, I can say that both kits seemed to give accurate results. If you’re just looking to learn about your own genetics and traits in an easy-to-read format, or you’re primarily looking for health information, I would choose 23andMe. But if you’re working on a family history project and you’re already familiar with the Ancestry platform, I’d rather do it.

For more, find out how I used technology to find out more about my own family tree. You can also request a DNA test from other services for your pet, If you really want to.

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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.



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