- Products: Ancestry tracing and Wellbeing DNA analysis reporting
- Cost: Living DNA offers free reports if the user chooses to upload a preexisting raw DNA file, but test kits range from $119 to $199
- DNA testing
- Regionally based ancestry reports across 8 global regions
- Optional Family matching/ DNA matching service
- 10+ wellbeing reports, i.e. health recommendations such as exercise, diet, and nutrition for different genetic variants
- Raw data access: Yes
- GDPR compliant & ISO 27001 certified
- Secured databases stored separately from other personal data
- Anonymized data
- Does not sell data to third parties, but provides an option to have your data included in the research
- For family genealogy: AncestryDNA and 23andMe
- For personalized health reports: SelfDecode
Living DNA was launched in 2016 at New Scientist Live in London by David and Hannah Nicholson.
They are a private company with the goal of providing insights to “help people discover more about you and the world around you.”
Living DNA Products & Features
Living DNA’s primary offering is its subregional ancestry tracing which focuses on Africa, Europe, the British Isles, and Ireland. Included in this offering is a DNA family network matching service that locates extended relatives throughout the world.
They also offer a wellbeing reporting service that recommends various actionable dieting, nutrition, and exercise regimens based on your genetic profile.
For Wellbeing reports, Living DNA organizes their information by specific nutrition and exercise topics. This is very useful for standard questions about common health concerns by the average user. The report displays information in an easy to understand but perhaps overly simplified manner. Below is a sample report page indicating various sensitivities and the health implications they carry.
While actionable, this level of reporting is not very comprehensive nor does it allow any flexibility for users with particular conditions in mind. Drilling down provides some extra guidance in the form of suggested next steps, but again only on the most superficial level. Here is a report focusing on exercise tips.
While generally useful, this kind of reporting fails to maximize the wide potential of health benefits from unlocking your personal genetic makeup. Any questions outside of these templates lie beyond the scope of this report. Further, any other medical or health-related questions such as acne, sleep-related issues, and hormone level tracking are entirely neglected, as they do not offer users a way to search for other health conditions or topics to see how their genes could impact them.
Living DNA ancestry tracking is better suited to what users probably expect from a DNA analysis service. The first chart below provides a straightforward breakdown of a sample genetic makeup by percent and region. The second chart may prove of more interest to many users of this kind of service. It shows the movement over time of the user’s ancestors displayed on a map for easy visualization. These maps are broken down by maternal and paternal lines over time.
The cost for Living DNA Ancestry Kit is $119 plus shipping ($25 standard, $70 express).
The Wellbeing Kit can be purchased separately for $149 or together with the Ancestry kit for $199 plus shipping ($25 standard, $70 express). Each of these packages focuses on a different analysis of your genome depending on whether your interest is in genealogy or genetic health.
Living DNA offers a free DNA upload if you have already sequenced your genome with other companies like 23andMe or Ancestry. Under this package, you have access only to their global ancestry and family network DNA matching although this may be subject to change.
Whether you are looking for information about your ancestry or health, there are more comprehensive options on the market than Living DNA. However, their kits are affordable when compared to similar services.
23andMe and AncestryDNA offer 1,000+ geo-regions while Living DNA only offers 150 with a focus on the British Isles and Ireland. Furthermore, some people report less accurate ancestry tracing with Living DNA compared to other industry leaders such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA.
The Wellbeing Kit does provide health information based on your specific genome, but only does so for a limited number of stock nutritional and exercise topics. There is no custom function for niche health topics. Additionally, there are no tools included for exploring your genetic risks for specific diseases or conditions.
Therefore, the best option as of 2021 is to focus on whether you are more interested in health or ancestry genome services. For health, SelfDecode offers a comprehensive and fully customizable genome analyzer with recommendations and resources based on the latest research. For ancestry tracing, 23andMe and AncestryDNA provide a more detailed and accurate picture.
Health Recommendations from Living DNA
Living DNA has a very specific set of health categories which it provides genetically tailored recommendations about. These include:
- Vitamin response, with a focus on Vitamin D
- Food metabolism as it relates to gluten sensitivity and lactose digestion
- Nutrition advice to ensure proper nutrition given your bodies genetically informed needs
- Exercise tips to help balance between weight training and cardio and recovery after working out for your specific genetic makeup
However, Living DNA does not address any more specific health issues that may lead someone to seek personalized health through understanding their unique genome. Nor does Living DNA provide disease tracking or carrier gene sequencing for anyone interested in learning their genetic predisposition to specific diseases.
This is a missed opportunity to empower the user to improve upon their general quality of life using information about their personal genetic risk to make overall lifestyle recommendations. Our lifestyle and environment play a very important role in how our genes impact our lives and Living DNA fails to address this for their users in a more comprehensive way.
Living DNA takes care to ensure the security of your data by employing several safeguards. They store your genetic information separately from your user data (e.g. name, email, and credit card information), by assigning a random barcode to your customer account which they use to identify your genetic data as belonging to you.
Your genetic data is stored in secured databases in an anonymous form so that any lab techs who work on your file are not privy to who the genetic material belongs to. In the event you reach out to the company for any customer support, you will have to confirm your identity before they provide any information to you online or over the phone.
If you so choose, you may opt to have Living DNA share your data anonymously with third parties for research purposes only. You always retain the option to withdraw your participation in such research should you so choose. Living DNA promises to never sell your data. Additionally, you may choose to have your data matched in Living DNA’s family matching database in the event you opt for that service.
Living DNA signed a partnership agreement in 2018 with Findmypast, also a British genealogy company. Utilizing Findmypast’s vast collection of more than 9 billion historical records and newspaper articles has furthered Living DNA’s ancestry tracing for 21 specific subregions across Britain and Ireland.
SelfDecode vs Living DNA
- SelfDecode delivers a wide range of natural supplement, diet, and lifestyle suggestions for both popular and niche issues based on your genes that you can implement right away. Living DNA only makes recommendations about a fixed set of common exercise, diet, and nutrition questions.
- SelfDecode tells you why they make each recommendation so that you can understand the science behind the suggestion. By contrast, Living DNA does not seem to provide information on the specific SNPs or genes involved with each recommendation.
- SelfDecode prioritizes recommendations based on their analysis of all the relevant genes by looking at more genes & genetic variants (up to 83 million) to deliver the best analysis of genetic risks. Living DNA does not provide comprehensive genetic analysis at all. Rather they focus on a fixed set of issues and suggest different courses of action for those select topics based on your genetic makeup.
- SelfDecode takes a holistic approach to give recommendations that are best for your genes AND the health topic. As a part of this commitment, SelfDecode hosts the world’s first and only personalized genetics blog that allows you to get new gene-based recommendations daily. All genetic health information is supported by peer-reviewed scientific studies with constant checks for contradicting information. By comparison, Living DNA does not cite references throughout their reports, so users are unsure of where the information is coming from.
- SelfDecode does not provide ancestry tracing information in contrast to Living DNA, which places a strong emphasis on family heritage information with a specific focus on subregions within the UK.
- SelfDecode never sells your data or gives it away. Living DNA makes the same promise, unless they receive your explicit permission for research purposes.
|Personalized & holistic health recommendations||Yes||No||No||No|
|Personalized blog posts||Yes||No||No||No|
|Products||DNA testing, wellness reports, research-based personalized blog posts, health recommendations||Ancestry tracing, DNA matching, basic personalized health reporting||Ancestry tracing, DNA matching, personalized health and trait reports, family health history||Ancestry tracing, health and skin reports, supplement package|
|Raw data access||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cost (USD)||$97 – $389||$59-$119||$99 – $179||$89 – $269|
Trustpilot – 2.5 of 5 stars
Reviewers on Trustpilot are generally negative about Living DNA, with most complaints focusing on the poor quality of results or shoddy customer support and long processing times.
DNAweekly – 9.4 of 10
While DNAweekly gives an overall high score, the content of their review is decidedly mixed. In their estimation, Living DNA does well on the Wellbeing report but had actual inaccuracies in the Ancestry report. Furthermore, the review noted that the customer support was subpar and that the company had even lost the test kit that had been sent in.
Read what people are saying about Living DNA on Twitter
The Living DNA hashtag on Twitter is a great place to find out more information about the latest features and offerings of the company as well as interesting genetic factoids and special deals.
Read what people are saying about Living DNA on Facebook
Users on Facebook share mixed reviews of the quality of their results from Living DNA and the responsiveness of their customer support team.
- SelfDecode: The best option for health-focused DNA analysis with personalized reports and recommendations to improve your quality of life.
Living DNA is an economical option for anyone interested in both ancestry tracing and basic health reporting about a fixed set of generic topics. It is not ideal for a customer looking for a higher quality version of either of these products.
If you are interested in commonly analyzed genetic health recommendations and do not intend to go beyond basic diet and exercise reporting, Living DNA is a good layman’s introduction to genetic health without too hefty of a price tag. Keep in mind that the lower price point not only limits the scope and quality of the product but based on customer reviews, the quality of customer service as well.
The SelfDecode database, for example, analyzes up to 83 million genetic variants that they know are connected to reliable research in genomics and health sciences. This provides a wide range of exploration and niche health customization possibilities for anyone interested in using their personal genetic sequencing to hack their own health.
When it comes to ancestry tracing, Living DNA does occupy a niche for the UK due to its partnership with Findmypast and their extensive records for that region. This allows them to offer ancestry tracing for 21 specific subregions across Britain and Ireland. Outside of this region, however, the granularity of their genealogy is inferior to alternative services like AncestryDNA. One reviewer claims to have found inaccuracies in his LivingDNA results compared to other Ancestry tracing services and personal knowledge of his family origins.
When it comes to genetic health reporting, LivingDNA is even further behind its competition offering only a narrow range of fixed categories of health reports.
If you want to be on the cutting edge of DNA technology and fully customize your health style and quality of life, then you would be better off with a service like SelfDecode.
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