Finding the Best DNA Testing Kits By Ethnicity
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The editors here at Genomelink think it is super important that every person finds the DNA testing company that is right for them. One thing every person should consider when ordering a home DNA test for ancestry is ethnicity. Because each company has DNA samples from specific populations, each DNA test kit is more accurate for the people that are related to the majority of their samples.
This article explores the best DNA testing kits for several common ethnicities. All of the companies will provide you test results from a simple cheek swab or saliva sample, but only some will allow you to find the most DNA matches, family members, and common ancestors for your ethnicity.
Keep reading to find out which DNA testing companies are best for your ethnicity!
Why are some companies better at estimating certain ethnicities?
Every ancestry test is based on a “reference population” from a specific area. To establish a reference population, DNA testing services must receive samples from specific geographic regions. Simply put, this means that every company has different reference populations based on the DNA kits they have processed from different regions.
So, if you are interested in your family history which contains lots of European ancestry, you should choose a company which specializes in that region. The DNA results you receive from a company that does not specialize in your family’s region will create vague or generalized results.
To determine the best testing company for every ethnicity, we looked at several different factors. First, we looked at what regions each company offers its genetic testing services in. Then, we looked at the number of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) measured by each company and whether or not they test autosomal DNA, Y-chromosome DNA, X-chromosome DNA, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Lastly, we looked at user reviews for each company to rule out companies which have not provided accurate ethnicity estimates to certain populations.
Here’s what we found for several major ethnicities!
If your ancestors are from the British Isles, Ireland, or mainland Europe, you have many great choices. 23andMe, MyHeritage, and AncestryDNA are all great options for researching a European heritage because the large majority of their samples come from these regions. For DNA newbies just trying to get an accurate ethnicity estimate, any of these providers make a great choice!
If you are certain that much of your family is Irish or British, you may want to look into Oxford Ancestors. The company was founded by genealogists based in the United Kingdom, and their DNA database has mostly British samples. This company takes samples from all over the world, but they have one of the most comprehensive databases for Western Europe and can give you information on both your maternal line and paternal line haplogroups, as well as migration routes your family may have taken.
Large tests like AncestryDNA start to falter when it comes to Asian ethnicities. This is largely because they have few samples from these populations, which makes their reference populations very small. Thus, many people with Asian ancestry get lumped into an “East Asian” or “South Asian” category on their ethnicity estimate. This massive group includes hundreds of ethnicities, and many users are looking for a better option.
Of your options, WeGene is likely one of the best testing companies for Asian ancestry. Based in China, the company only recently started accepting samples from other sources. This means that their reference populations are highly targeted toward the genetic differences between Asian populations, such as Chinese, Thai, and Japanese. So, if you are looking for living relatives in Asia, WeGene might be your best option. You can read our full review of WeGene to learn about the price, accuracy, and other aspects of the company.
Native American Ethnicities
If you are looking for a DNA test to discover your Native American ancestry, you are a bit out of luck. Unfortunately, few companies have created well-defined reference populations for Native American groups. While tests from 23andMe and AncestryDNA do have small reference populations for this group, they can easily miss a distant Native American heritage when providing your DNA test results.
One option you can try is GEDmatch. Using their platform, you can manually change parameters and do a deep search for Native American roots. You can check out our blog post on how to dig deep into potential Native American Ancestry on Gedmatch for more information on how to do this.
African ethnicities pose the same problem for large DNA testing companies as Asian ethnicities: these companies simply do not have enough samples from African countries. However, there is one company that specializes in African genealogy.
The company, African Ancestry, has created reference populations for many African countries, as well as the ethnic groups found in each country. This makes it one of the best testing companies for learning about your African heritage. You can also read our review of African Ancestry before you get started!
Search other sources for FREE!
While the above companies are great resources for each group of ethnicities, many DNA explorers also find great information by cross-referencing their results across several different testing platforms. Many of the companies below will allow you to re-analyze your DNA sample for free, or for a much lower fee than you paid originally.
Using these sources, you can get ethnicity estimates based on the many different reference populations used by each company. All you will need to do is upload your raw data provided by your original DNA service. Check them out!
1. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) — FREE
2. MyHeritage DNA — FREE
3. LivingDNA — FREE
4. GEDmatch — FREE
In addition to using your DNA data to dig deeper into your heritage, you can use it to learn more about your genetic predisposition for certain diseases, health and wellness traits, personality and more!
1. Genomelink — FREE (Lifestyle Traits)
2. Promethease (Health Risks)
3. Genopalate (Nutrition and Fitness)
To find out more DNA upload sites, check out our article "The Best DNA Upload Sites"