Basic Information About DNA Test Kits
There are a lot of different options in DNA test kits on the market today. While DNA is a familiar term, exactly what it is and why it is important in learning more about yourself and your ancestry is still a mystery for many people.
Becoming familiar with the basics of DNA kits and testing will help you determine if there is value in doing the test and getting the information.
How Do DNA Tests Work?
Home DNA test kits use one of two options to collect your sample. One option is to spit in a tube to a specific volume. The other is to use a swab and gently rub the inside of your cheek. Both are effective and offer the same results; it is really just a choice between different testing companies and your preference.
The company then processes the DNA sample in their lab. They compare your DNA with all of the other customers in their database. With the large companies, this can be millions of samples collected from people around the world. How your DNA matches with the samples in the database provides information on your family history, if people with related DNA are on the database, and information about your family tree.
Most DNA test kits are autosomal, which means both men and women can use the same test, and it tests male and female lineage. There are Y-DNA test kits that are just for men, and mtDNA kits that test ancestry through the maternal line.
How to Choose the Best DNA Test Kit
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing a DNA test kit. The companies with the largest databases providing DNA information from people around the world are able to provide more accurate information.
This is a critical consideration if you have very limited information about your family heritage. People who are adopted, for example, may not have any information about past generations, the origins of their family, or even what part of the world the family originated.
Some DNA testing services also provide additional reports, including health and wellness reports based on your genetic makeup. This is helpful information for many and can offer insights into everything from sleep to eating habits.
When looking at the DNA test, check to see if you have the ability to download your raw data. This information can be used with different services to create specific types of reports without the need to repeat the collection and initial testing process.
DNA companies store your DNA on a database, but you must provide permission. The DNA companies may also share the results with law enforcement requests of access, as well as share data with other DNA companies. DNA companies will ask your permission for this type of sharing, but there is a very real concern about the security and the potential for hackers to get into these databases.
Some individuals completing these tests may also receive information that is unexpected or even unwanted. This is more common with distant relatives as matching DNA becomes less precise with smaller matching sequences.
At Gemonelink, we provide up-to-date information for consumers on all aspects of DNA testing and ancestry services. Learn more about the products we review in our blogs and resource listings.