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Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing is a booming business, but are all of these tests legitimate? Yes, in some cases. Some at-home DNA tests to determine hereditary health risks, paternity, and ancestry are legit. But what about DNA testing brands that claim to analyze your DNA for your nutrition, fitness, and even your biological age?
As a health sciences expert, I’ve done extensive research into DTC genetic testing for years. So, I’ll help shed light on which DNA tests can give you the results you’re looking for and those that may be hit-or-miss based on the current science.
- How Accurate Are At-Home DNA Health Tests?
- Best DNA Tests For Health Reasons
- What About Living DNA, GenoPalate & TallyAge Tests?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What Else Can You Learn From 23andMe And Other DNA Tests?
- Why Trust Safe Smart Living?
Various types of DNA health testing kits on the market claim to determine your predisposition for diseases and carrier status, give you your cellular age or analyze your DNA for weight loss and fitness purposes. Are they worth it? And are they actually accurate?
To put it plainly, some genetic health risk and carrier tests can be accurate, but with other DNA tests analyzing diet, fitness, and biological age — take them with a grain of salt. The science behind these tests is in its infancy, so keep that in mind. See what I’ve uncovered before putting a dent in your wallet.
Best DNA Tests For Health Reasons
We’ve chosen our top picks based on each company’s scientific reputation and practices, types of tests offered, results, customer feedback, and other factors.
A Word Of Caution
23andMe is a pioneer at-home DNA testing company that launched in 2007. Today, it remains the only DTC DNA testing service with authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for genetic testing for disease predisposition.* Some of these include late-onset Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Hereditary Thrombophilia, Type 2 Diabetes, and 44 genetic variants found on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes known to be associated with a higher risk for breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
23andMe offers two DNA test kits, which use whole genome sequencing to identify inherited genetic mutations. Both offer health predisposition, carrier status, wellness, and physical trait reports; however, if you want full genetic testing for disease risk, you’ll need to upgrade to the 23andMe+ Premium test. This premium test also includes pharmacogenetics reports that can determine how your body metabolizes certain medications.
An exciting new addition to the company’s testing arsenal is 23andMe+ Total Health. This test utilizes a newer cutting-edge genetic analysis technology called Whole Exome Sequencing (WES). According to Yale Medicine, researchers estimate that 85% of all genetic variants that cause diseases can be found in the exome (the coding portion of the genome).
23andMe’s Total Health covers over 55 hereditary conditions and also includes biannual blood test panels and everything you get with 23andMe’s premium test. Unfortunately, Total Health is quite expensive and so new we haven’t been able to find customer feedback about its results.
*Approximately one dozen testing reports are FDA-approved; the others are powered by 23andMe’s research but are not FDA-approved.
|Only at-home DNA test to offer FDA-approved genetic health screenings
|Requires an annual subscription for updates to your reports
|Offers cutting-edge whole exome sequencing (highest-tier test)
|Other reports include carrier status, wellness, physical traits, and pharmacogenetics
|Suffered a security breach of ancestry data for millions of users in fall 2023
|All tests give you ancestry results
|Some complaints about poor customer service
|CLIA- and CAP-certified laboratory
|Simple cheek swab
23andMe also offers an Ancestry test at, which doesn’t include any health information.
|Health + Ancestry
|23andMe+ Total Health
|Health Predisposition Reports
|Carrier Status Reports
|Ongoing New Reports
|2 per year
*After the first year, this feature auto-renews at $69/year.
Our Personal Experience With 23andMe
I did a 23andMe test in 2018, and I still get new information added to my account as 23andMe expands its offerings. It’s wild the things they can infer about my health from my DNA. While a lot of it is true, some minor items are incorrect. For example, 23andMe is fairly spot on with my physical traits, but the random things like whether I consume more or less caffeine or if I prefer sweet vs salty snacks are incorrect.
More important to me are the Health Predisposition and Carrier Status reports. I appreciate the in-depth information provided by 23andMe, and it allows me the opportunity to follow up with my primary physician about anything I’m concerned about. The cost-benefit analysis of 23andMe is totally worth it, in my opinion. The information I’ve gained through my test has been helpful and fun to explore.Kimberly Alt, Safe Smart Living writer
Runner-Up: CircleDNA Review
Lesser-known CircleDNA launched its comprehensive DNA test in 2019. CircleDNA uses advanced whole exome sequencing in its internationally accredited laboratory. This test has a lot to offer, albeit at a hefty cost. Your results include over 500 separate health reports in 20 categories.
It analyzes your risk level for 35+ cancers and 80 other serious diseases and disorders, such as Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. You can also learn your carrier status for 160+ serious heritable conditions, which may be helpful if you’re considering starting a family.
Other reports may help shed light on your certain prescription drug responses, diet, fitness, skin health, ancestry breakdown, and more. The major downside with CircleDNA? It may be cost-prohibitive for some people.
|Uses cutting-edge whole exome sequencing
|Get 500 reports
|No FDA-authorized testing reports
|Internationally accredited laboratory
|Ancestry results are limited compared to 23andMe and Living DNA
|Some users say it’s difficult to reach customer support
|Get results within 18 business days
|30-minute genetic consultation included
|Simple cheek swab
You can save 40%-50% if you purchase multiple tests.
- Free shipping
Third Place: NGX Review
NGX is a Great Britain-based company that focuses on nutrigenetics, the field of science that examines how we metabolize and process different nutrients based on our unique genetic makeup. NGX’s test analyzes your DNA to find a variety of known genetic variants that can impact your ability to use, process or absorb different nutrients.
Your personal nutrition report gives you a breakdown of your daily caloric needs, the percentage of protein, carbs, and fats you should be eating (with recommendations for ideal food sources), your vitamin and minerals needs, and how your body responds to caffeine, lactose, and gluten.
Then you have the option of purchasing the company’s NGX BodyFuel powdered supplement customized for your body’s needs. They even have guidelines on how to take BodyFuel to help you achieve your goals (e.g., build lean muscles, lose body fat, improve physical performance, etc.). BodyFuel isn’t cheap, however. A bag with 28 servings is approximately $65. NGX offers a wide variety of supplements on its website.
Customers rave about NGX, and I’m impressed with the scientific approach they take (even though this field of science is so young). However, it’s important to point out that because NGX is based in Great Britain, those of us in the United States will have pricey shipping fees.
|Extensive report includes details about each genetic variant they analyzed and what it means for you
|No genetic health risk or carrier status analysis
|15-minute nutritionist consultation included
|Hefty shipping fees
|Option to purchase personalized powdered supplement (vegan and sustainably sourced)
|Supplements are pricey
|Get results in 10-14 working days
|Sample report on website
|Simple cheek swab
|They destroy your DNA sample once the lab has finished its analysis
|Excellent customer reviews
- NGX DNA Test: $154.87
- Supplements: varies
GenoPalate is a relatively new DNA testing company that’s geared toward your diet. This brand says it analyzes over 158 genetic markers that allow scientists to identify specific genetic traits and sensitivities affecting your ideal diet. These markers provide insights into how your body processes certain nutrients, such as vitamin D or protein.
Your results include 23 personalized nutrition recommendations and insights into whether you’re sensitive to alcohol, caffeine, lactose, and gluten. Your report also includes up to 140 foods matching your DNA-based nutrient needs. GenoPalate says they only use evidence from the highest-quality, peer-reviewed research studies to inform their recommendations.
Based on many unfavorable customer reviews I’ve seen, I think you can do better with NGX. Still, some customers have found GenoPlate’s results to be helpful for them.
|DNA analysis based on the most recent research
|Requires you to purchase personalized recipes on their website
|Ability to upload raw DNA data from many other services (23andMe, AncestryDNA, etc.)
|Several user complaints about inaccurate and/or results
|Get results in 24 hours by uploading your raw DNA data or 4-6 weeks by taking their test
|Many reports of poor customer support
|20-minute dietitian coaching session included
|CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited labs
- Essential Nutrition DNA Test & Report: $199
- Essential Nutrition Report (upload your raw DNA): $199
- Personalized Recipes: 5 for $39.95 or 10 for $49.95 (required for purchase)
Better known for its robust ancestry DNA testing, Living DNA also offers a Wellbeing DNA testing kit. This kit analyzes your DNA for several genetic variants that are related to nutrition and exercise. These include food metabolism, lactose and gluten intolerances, blood glucose regulation, and a few fitness-related factors.
For example, Living DNA looks at the genetic variant that can impact how your body metabolizes several different vitamins and minerals. While these results can be hit-or-miss, I recommend going with Living DNA’s Wellness & Ancestry Kit to get the best bang for your buck. This company specializes in African, British, and European ancestry with extensive subregional breakdowns. They also offer DNA matching.
|Ideal if you want ancestry and wellness results
|No genetic health risk or carrier status analysis
|Gives you nutritional and exercise advice based on your results
|Limited wellness results compared to our top 2 picks
|No information about the science behind their wellness analysis
|Get results in 6-8 weeks
|Simple mouth swab
- Wellbeing Kit: $129
- Ancestry Kit: $99
- Wellbeing & Ancestry Kit: $179
- View all options
TallyAge Test Review
Tally Health is one of many fairly new DTC DNA tests that measure DNA methylation patterns associated with aging and disease to determine your biological versus your chronological age. DNA methylation is the chemical modification of our DNA that alters gene expression. Many factors can contribute to your individual aging process, including genetics, diet, exercise, environmental exposures, and more. Well-established scientific evidence confirms that DNA methylation biomarkers can determine biological age.
The TallyAge Test uses artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technology and compares the DNA from your cheek swab to the company’s existing DNA methylation database of 8,000 people to determine your biological age.
To get more than your biological age, you must sign up for a monthly subscription to get actionable insights into lifestyle changes if you’re aging faster than you should be. Not surprisingly, this includes their Vitality longevity supplements, which include such ingredients as calcium alpha-ketoglutarate, quercetin, and resveratrol.
While these ingredients have been shown in research studies to promote longevity and improve healthspan in small mammals, it’s important to note that these supplements aren’t FDA-approved.
|Determines how well your body is aging
|Developed by Dr. David Sinclair, a renowned Harvard longevity researcher
|Launched in 2023 so we can’t find many customer reviews about this product
|Database is larger than competitors
|Get results in 4-6 weeks
|Membership includes personalized action plan and high-quality supplements
|Simple cheek swab
|No. of TallyAge Tests
|Personalized Action Plan
Here are some questions people often ask about DNA health testing. Don’t see yours here? Ask us in our comments.
What Do And Don’t Genetic Predisposition Reports Tell You?
Genetic health risk reports inform you if you have variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but they don’t describe your overall risk of developing the disease. They’re not intended to inform you of your current state of health and shouldn’t be used to make medical decisions.
What Are Carrier Status Reports?
Being a “carrier” means you carry one genetic variant for a health condition. Carrier status reports can’t tell you if you have two copies of any genetic variant. Rather, they tell you about variants that may not affect your health but could affect the health of your future family. However, they can’t predict anything about the risks of your child being born with or developing a particular disease.
Whole Genome vs Whole Exome vs Targeted Sequencing: What’s The Difference?
Want to understand the differences between the different types of next-generation sequencing (NGS)? This brief video gives you a quick explanation.
What Else Can You Learn From 23andMe And Other DNA Tests?
23andMe is a unique DNA testing company in that it not only offers DNA medical testing, but also gives you insight into your family’s ancestry. You can learn where your ancestors lived and locate living relatives. However, if your major reason for doing a DNA test is for hereditary purposes, I’d recommend AncestryDNA’s test.
Why Trust Safe Smart Living?
Sally has over 20 years of experience in health sciences communications. From researching and writing about scientific advances by world-renowned faculty at UNC-Chapel-Hill and the VCU Health System to spending many years as a public relations and marketing specialist at the UVA Health System. Sally has conducted extensive research into at-home DNA testing for humans and pets since 2015.Tagged With: Comparison, DNA Testing