Once upon a time, I thought I knew who I was.  Or at least I should say, I thought I knew where it was my ancestors came from.  Growing up, we thought we had a fairly decent handle on our family genealogy.  I had always been told that I was mostly Irish, with a slightly less amount of English, some Danish and Scottish blood thrown in for good measure.  Come St. Patrick’s Day, I would always make a big deal about my Irish heritage and proudly tell everyone that, indeed, I was definitely Irish.  When I went to visit England, I felt an affinity to the UK.  I felt like I was in my homeland.  Knowing that I had some English heritage, I figured it wasn’t too shocking that I fit in so well that everywhere I went, people were asking me questions, as if I was from there.  I definitely fit the look of an English woman.

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With this in mind, when I came across* Living DNA, I thought it would be interesting to take the test and see what it was all about.  There are quite a few DNA and ancestry kits available on the market right now, so it seemed like it could be fun to try out.  What makes Living DNA a better choice than all the other options out there?

 

You can see how Living DNA’s features compares to the other major DNA companies here. From a simple saliva swab, you will receive for the first time anywhere:

o   3-in-1 DNA Test for price of one. Living DNA not only covers your family line ancestry, but unlike most other tests, they also include your motherline, and your fatherline ancestry (if you are male) in one single DNA test for the same prices as most others charge for only one test.

o  Living DNA uses the newest DNA chip technology and innovative software technology. Living DNA’s technology was developed with top academic experts internationally, including at University College London, Bristol University and Oxford University. They worked with experts to create the groundbreaking Orion chip to help select the DNA markers that tell us the most.

o  Advanced DNA analysis.  They look at how that DNA is connected and interacting because that can tell us much greater detail about where within a country your ancestors were.

o  Living DNA is the only single DNA test that can track your ancestors movements at several points in time from 80,0000 to 150,000 years ago from the point modern humans migrated out of Africa to where they moved through several eras spanning thousands of years and finally up to much more recent history.

o  More precise ethnic breakdown on where your ancestors are from: They can get you two times the precision when pinpointing the locations where your ancestors came from because our test breaks the world down into 80 regions, more than double the number of areas as our competitors. In addition, Living DNA is the only DNA company that goes into specific countries and pinpoints where within a country ancestors are from. More regional breakdowns within countries to come next year and in 5 years all countries where most Americans have ancestry.

  Peace of Mind: Living DNA has the highest level of data and personal information protection, will not sell your DNA or data and puts you in control of your genetic data and how it is used. 

o   The knowledge that Living DNA is a socially responsible company with a mission: Our mission drives them: to illustrate through DNA that every single person living today globally shares a common ancestor if you look back far enough: the maximum time before you would find a common ancestor is about 13,000 years.  We dedicate 10% of profits to promote our mission. “One Family” is Living DNA’s pioneering work with schools around the world using DNA testing to show students how we are all connected.

We ordered our kits and they arrived quickly.  Everything we needed to take the test was included.  We followed the very simple instructions, swabbed our cheeks (very non-invasive) and put them in the provided pouches and mailed them off.  The hardest part about the entire thing was anxiously awaiting the results. Those came to my email one evening and I was so excited to see them. Even though I was excited to see what they said,  I assumed that the results would be pretty much on track to what I had been told all my life.  Really, what could a DNA test tell me that I didn’t already know?

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Well, for starters–how about the fact that I’m not Irish at all!  Or Danish or Scottish. What?!  Seriously, all of that threw me for a loop.  The test did find, however, that I am 93% English.  I guess that explains why I fit in so well.  Honestly, 93% is way more than the anticipated 40% I assumed I would be and according to some research, even more than most people in England are, due to their own mixed backgrounds.  It even went so far as to break it down for me and to show the regions from England that I was from.  This was especially fascinating to me because I pulled out genealogical records that we had on my ancestors and could see exactly where they were from (yeah, after double checking, I never could find the Irish, Danish, and Scottish–it was just something I’d been told and I believed growing up, I guess).  Do you know that Living DNA actually pinpointed the areas that I did have listed with my relatives to the exact area?  This happened with five different areas.  How on earth could they possibly know that?  Well, the answer lies in my DNA, apparently.

Now for the extra big surprise I got from the test.  This one was shocking to me.  I am 6% Italian and 1% Basque.  I was baffled.  Never had I ever been told that in my life and I didn’t have any records of that in my family history to the point we had researched.  But surprisingly, growing up I had noticed that we had family recipes passed down from generations that were of Basque origin (that’s pretty unusual to hear of that region, anyway) and now it had my interest piqued–maybe it’s time to look further back in the genealogy and find out where the Basque comes from.  Turns out, I have a mystery to get to the bottom to, to find out who in my family history comes from Italy (Sardinia, actually) and from Basque.  This could make for some very interesting discoveries and I am excited to do it now.

The test results were so thorough.  I found out so much about my ancestry through the charts, graphs, depictions of movement, and information provided.  It was absolutely fascinating! Talking to other friends who have done other DNA tests, I know that Living DNA provides so much more detail.  I am really excited about this find and with the holidays here, I know what I want to give some hard to gift people now, both men and women.  This would make a great gift, one that is very meaningful and interesting.  A very rich gift at an affordable price.  You can even turn the results of the tests into a cool memento by creating a personalized coffee table book of your results for an additional low-cost of $69 plus shipping.  DNA tests can be a great gift to bring families closer and spark great conversation as you learn about your family history together.

I highly recommend taking the opportunity to research your ancestry by taking a test from Living DNA.  The entire process, start to finish, was so easy and rewarding.  You can learn more about Living DNA, and order your own kits, by visiting their website.

*I was invited to try out the service to facilitate a feature.  All opinions are my own.