View Full Version : Best DNA company for someone of Afro-Caribbean descent?

Mr. Gaeta
12-14-2020, 05:26 PM
Hi everyone, I am planning on getting my DNA results, but I am not sure which company would have the most detailed and accurate results for a Canadian of African descent, whose parents are from the Caribbean.

What would you recommend? I was thinking of of 23andme. Thanks!

Don Felipe
12-14-2020, 05:50 PM
I myself have tested with both Ancestry and 23andme. Both DNA tests have provided me with great informational value over the years. Both tests do also have their own shortcomings plus they are compatible in several ways.

Choosing between either one of them will depend on what exactly you’re looking for. It used to be the case that Ancestry offered a much more detailed admixture analysis of especially West & Central African DNA. However given recent updates on both Ancestry and 23andme I actually think 23andme's African breakdown is more accurate now.

When looking for African DNA matches Ancestry may have the upperhand still when considering their customer database which is over 18 million now and still growing. This should increase the odds of receiving African DNA matches. However they did recently (https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/2020/07/28/why-even-small-african-matches-matter/) stop reporting smaller DNA matches within the 6-8 cM range. So this potential for African DNA matches has been weakened. But for an average Afro-Caribbean person I do think you should be able to get atleast a couple of African DNA matches, which can be very insightful! Generally speaking Ancestry is also more specialized in family tree research and offering services/tools to assist you in such endeavours.

23andme on the other hand has the advantage of providing chromosome paintings, phasing with parents, haplogroups, and listing the self-reported ancestor birthplaces of your DNA matches. Aside from their health reports of course. So really it’s up to your own preferences in this regard.

If you want to know how West Indians generally score on 23&me see these pages:

West Indian 23andme results (https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/west-indian-23andme-results)

Jamaican 23andme results (https://tracingafricanroots.wordpress.com/jamaican-23andme-results/)

12-14-2020, 06:25 PM
23andMe or AncestryDNA

Mr. Gaeta
12-15-2020, 03:14 PM
Thanks for the replies, that was very helpful.

Especially your in-depth post, Don Felipe!

I read the pages you shared and it was very insightful. Being half Guyanese, and half Montserratian, seeing the results of those Guyanese individuals and how the 23andme breakdown and assessment works, shows me this is the right choice. The health report is important as well, so combined with everything 23andme has to offer, I'll go with that.

This gives me the info I need to move forward. Thanks guys.

12-15-2020, 11:38 PM
So, I've been coming back to this thread, wanting to post for a while now. I have a special fondness for the curiosity shown by Afro-descendants (I'll just call them ADs for this post) in the Americas towards their origins :), so here's a few points to consider in no particular order of importance:

1. If you happen to be one of those people wishing to confirm the presence/absence of a small piece of heritage from generations ago (i.e. A Native American 6x G-grandparent, Chinese 4x Ggrandparent), then 23andMe may be the better option IMO. From what I've seen, they seem to be better at picking out small percentages of ancestry (<1%) that Ancestry (or LivingDNA) would have more difficulty detecting.

2. Concerning categories, I think 23andMe has fewer separate West & Central African regions and countries than Ancestry. With the former company, the top regions for many African-Americans (to give an example) will be in West Africa, as opposed to Central Africa, which seems to contrast with Ancestry's results where it doesn't seem to be uncommon for "Cameroon, Congo..." to be higher for AAs than Nigeria, Benin & Togo, etc. The veracity of all of this, and the certainty of how much of your ancestry comes from West vs Central Africa, I can't tell you, but this 23andMe study released in July may suggest that Ancestry has the right of it on this front:
Then again, 23andMe rarely adds anything bizarre or unbelievable, maintaining at least some level of feasability even in small percentages as opposed to Ancestry which struggles with these smaller pieces, assigning in quite a few AAs I've seen a 1% here to the Baltics and 1% there to Ethiopia and Eritrea :lol:.

3. In terms of regions, especially New World regions, I can't help but think Ancestry is much better. 23andMe is improving and we've seen evidence of this in the relatively recent Caribbean and Latin American Regions update a year or two back. However, Ancestry shows a depth unmatched IMO, the historical facts/cultural notes that I've seen for people's results of the country they're matched with (i.e. a timeline of Jamaican history) seem to show a greater quality than 23andMe. The latter company does attempt to fill in similar information for their own categories but there is a disappointing difference in the depth of the content between European and African regions... or rather European vs non-European.

4. I think an important cause of these differences may lie in their interests, with Ancestry seeming to be more concerned with- well, ancestry, while 23andMe has always had a health slant (which we've seen Ancestry adopt to a lesser extent over time). So in terms of health, I would recommend 23andMe out of the two, but Ancestry does offer a limited version of these non-ancestry results, and will likely add more in future.

5. Updates- you may be excited to receive updates over time to hopefully see the accuracy of your results increase. However, 23andMe may not be updating their user's results indefinitely, which I think they've indicated in the forum discussions on the website. Chips are released every 2-3 years, and we've been on V5 for about 3 years now with the last update being called V5.9, so you may wish to wait for V6 to get the most time for updates out of your money if you want to play the long game. Then again, maybe they'll stick with the next chip and keep updating all the others, too (though I doubt it lol after seeing the changes which occurred this year). Ancestry updates everyone and always has AFAIK.

In addition to 23andMe, I did LivingDNA in the hopes of breaking down my West/Central African and European Ancestry. Not only did it fail to detect my Native American Ancestry, It lumped all of my European heritage into one pile which hardly broke it down at all, and made it less diverse than documented, as well. I won't even get started on how badly they botched my Northeast African ancestry.
Anyway, happy researching! I hope you find what you're looking for :cheer2:.

Mr. Gaeta
12-22-2020, 02:18 AM
Thanks Atlas, for breaking this down into these details. That's really informative for someone like me who is new to this. My wife and I are also interested in the health features of 23andme so we decided to go with that.

But knowing these differences between 23andme and Ancestry, both in the short-term and long-term, I will most likely still also try Ancestry one day to see how it compares.

Thanks again!