It wasn’t all that long ago that we had to rely on old family stories, birth certificates, and other official documents, if we wished to delve a little deeper into where we originated from. While these methods can still provide you with some very specific and interesting information, the advances in the understanding and decoding of DNA has opened up a whole new world of information that goes back much further than the dustiest of records could ever hope to take you.

So what information can we get from these DNA tests that have suddenly popped up on the market? Well the answer to that can be very different depending on which company you decide to test with. Some offer basic information, such as what parts of the globe your DNA comes from, while others delve much deeper to give you insight into health issues that you may want to be aware of, and even the likelihood of suffering from male-pattern baldness, and whether you are likely to be able to roll your tongue or not.

Knowledge is power

Some of these findings will scratch that itch of curiosity, but others can actually have real world benefits. For example, knowing that you or your partner could be a “carrier” for a genetic condition, will allow you to make informed decisions about your future family. There are also some tests that will show you how predisposed to weight gain or lactose intolerance you will be. All this data can help build a much fuller picture of your health profile, and lead you down the right path for your future.

Health isn’t the only reason you may want to look into your DNA profile. Some of the best DNA test kits can provide you with detailed and advanced family history, some going back to your great-great-grandparents, while others can look back way further than that. Depending on what you are looking for, you may find that one test suits your needs better than others. For those who are looking for long lost family members, searching for their original biological family after adoption, or simply want to see how far their family tree goes and to what parts of the world, it may be best to choose a test that has a large DNA database and specializes in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which gives precise details about ancestors and distant cousins. If, on the other hand you are more interested in the likelihood of being a genetic carrier for a certain condition, a different company may provide a better report for you. There are many companies to choose from, and no limit to how many tests you can do, so if you find your interest has peaked after doing one of the tests, another may help you find even more information down the line.

Quick, simple, painless

Now, it is also worth noting that these DNA testing kits do not require the extraction of blood, as many people still wrongly think. Most are done by taking either a cheek swab (a cotton bud that is rubbed inside the cheek for 30 seconds) or a saliva sample. Both methods are simple, quick, and above all, absolutely painless. Once you have your sample, you send it back to the labs, and within a few weeks or months (depending on which company you opt for), you will receive your data pack with your DNA history.

For those quite rightly worrying about the implications of their DNA profile being stored online, you can rest assured that the top names in the industry take the responsibility extremely seriously when it comes to keeping your data safe. It makes sense, as any company playing fast and loose with such sensitive information would be digging their own grave should the worst happen. That being said, it never hurts to double check their credentials, and any DNA testing company worth their salt will be only too happy to boast about the security measures they have in place; in fact most have all the details on their FAQ pages.

So when it comes to choosing your DNA testing kit, it really comes down to three things. You want the company to be trustworthy, to provide you with the type of information you want, and in a time frame that is acceptable to you. Once all those boxes are ticked, it’s time to start learning about who you are, and where you come from.




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