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Living DNA Testing Kit review

Living DNA's health analysis is designed to give you a way to live more healthily based on body type.

Living DNA Testing Kit review
(Image: © Living DNA)

Our Verdict

This is a great tool for learning healthy habits, specific to your body type, that actually work.

For

  • Health analysis
  • Detailed colorful reports
  • Small sample needed

Against

  • Not as detailed for Asian and African ancestries
  • Limited pedigree tools
  • Long turnaround time for some tests

If you're thinking of using the best DNA testing kits, you've come to the right place. We've done hours of research and tested the DNA kits on the market to create our guide and we think Living DNA is the best choice for health analysis.

One of the best parts of Living DNA is how easy it is to collect your sample. This kit comes with two swabs that you rub along the inside of your cheek. You do need to refrain from eating, drinking, chewing gum and smoking at least 30 minutes before you collect your sample. Once the sample is collected you place the swabs into a secure container and send it back to the Living DNA lab.

Turnaround times vary depending on where you live, the type of test you took and the time of year. For us, we received a notice within three days that the kit arrived, and we had preliminary results about our geographical beginning and migrations within a week after that. Living DNA continued to analyze DNA samples for those interested in the wellbeing portion of the test kit, and we liked that portions of the test results were released rather than holding on to everything until all tests were completed.

Living DNA examines mitochondrial and Y-DNA as well as autosomal DNA. While autosomal DNA is a mix of your parents’ genetic material, mitochondrial and Y-DNA are passed to you directly from your mother and father, respectively, making it possible to trace your direct maternal or paternal line back thousands of years. Living DNA explores your haplogroups by comparing where people in the same haplogroup are most commonly located today, following a migration map of where your maternal ancestors came from or viewing a phylogenetic tree.

Living DNA review: Test results

  • Service divides its maps into over 80 regions
  • It is more detailed in Europe and especially in Britain
  • Timeline shows spread of your ancestors 1,000 to 80,000 years ago

We were impressed with the plethora of information Living DNA gave us, but this is to be expected since this service divides its maps into over 80 regions and subregions covering eight continents. Test results show subregional areas and the percentage of DNA that comes for each of those regions. It is more detailed in Europe and especially in Britain and Ireland where there are 21 regions. This makes Living DNA a great choice if you have ancestors from this area. In some cases, subregions with specific countries and counties were listed. Our testers with ancestries from other parts of the globe, particularly in Asia and African countries, didn’t see quite the same in-depth results, but overall were grateful for the details provided. You can see a little more detailed subregion results with 23andMe.

Your Living DNA ancestry report gives you a timeline, which shows the spread of your ancestors 1,000 to 80,000 years ago and gives you a basic historical context for what was going on in the world at that time. It’s a neat feature, but not as specific as AncestryDNA’s migrations and recent history for more contemporary insights.

If you choose to have the health analysis done, too, Living DNA doesn’t wait until this part of the testing is done before having results available. You can still explore your ancestral and geographical DNA results while waiting for other results. And unlike other health analysis from companies like 23andMe that focus on possible diseases you’re prone to, Living DNA’s health results include which foods your body metabolizes and exercises that work with your body type. It also looks at vitamins that are good for your body making the overall information very helpful for you as an individual in setting and reaching realistic health goals.

Living DNA review: Beyond the test results

  • Family matching service
  • You can download your raw DNA data
  • Can order a book that shows all your results

Living DNA’s family matching service, Family Networks, helps you make family connections with those you’re related to that also take a Living DNA test and opt to share the results. This is a new feature of Living DNA, so there aren’t as many connections there, yet, but we believe this will start changing now that this feature is available. You can arrange connected relatives into a family tree type view that makes it easier to see relationships. You can download your raw DNA data to upload to other sites like MyHeritage.

Living DNA also has a coffee table book you can order and personalize that shows all your results and makes a great conversation piece for friends visiting your home, or gifts to family members who share your DNA.

Living DNA review: Is it worth the cost?

Living DNA has four different kits available, the Starter Kit, Full Ancestry Kit, Wellbeing Kit, and Wellbeing and Ancestry Kit. The Starter Kit is only about $50, but it includes an impressive amount of information about DNA matching, nutrition reports, and fitness insights. You also have access to the Family Networks. For the price, this is an impressive amount of information.

The all-inclusive Wellbeing and Ancestry Kit is around $130 and gives access to interactive charts and maps with your family’s history but it also includes helpful information to help with your individual health including nutrition reports and fitness insights. While it isn’t the same health analysis you’ll find from other DNA testing companies, the information you do get is well worth the cost.

Should you use Living DNA?

Living DNA is one of the best choices for testing your DNA if you are of European descent. The reports are colorful and interactive with some good details about your haplogroups, including migratory paths. We recommend this test for the helpful nutrition overview that helps you know which foods, vitamins and exercise work with your specific body type. Though these reports are different from other DNA companies, we feel they are valuable and make Living DNA good value, while also being a trusted DNA testing company.

LivingDNA doesn’t need a large sample like other services like Ancestry.com and 23andMe, require. But the results are still pretty detailed and the reports are some of the more colorful and fun to browse through, especially if you are of British descent, because the information from these haplogroups are impressive. You can opt to have a wellness analysis done, too, that gives you insights into how you can live better. 

LivingDNA connects you to other family members through its DNA shared program and has some of the best customer service with representatives that are attentive, friendly and anxious to help you with every question or issue.