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September 5, 2019
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23andMe vs. MyHeritage: A simple comparison for the DNA newbie
23andMe and MyHeritage both have specific advantages. This article gives a full comparison of the two companies to help you make a decision!
By
Tomohiro Takano

With so many DNA testing services out there, it is hard to know which DNA testing companies are right for your needs. Here at Genomelink, we think it is imperative that every person understands the differences between all of the DNA testing services. In this article, we take a look at the similarities and differences between 23andMe and MyHeritage, as well as the advantages each company has to offer. Check it out!


Similarities between 23andMe and MyHeritage

23andMe and MyHeritage both offer genetic testing for ancestry composition and health information, and both are among the best DNA tests on the market. The MyHeritageDNA test and the 23andMe Ancestry test both search through over 600,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. The DNA ancestry tests offered by these companies are very similar, though they measure slightly different SNPs in different locations. 


Both companies also allow you to find DNA matches. Each company only allows you to search for family members within their own database. You can use this feature from either company to find DNA relatives. These testing services also offer ethnicity estimates, though the estimate from each DNA testing company will be slightly different based on the company’s reference populations and methods, as we will see.


How are 23andMe and MyHeritage different?

MyHeritage is primarily a company based around building and researching your family tree. Before the days of DNA testing, MyHeritage provided software and access to a large historical document database. Their DNA test can be used to help research and build your family tree. MyHeritage recently started offering a health report in addition to their ancestry report, to better compete with companies like 23andMe. However, their primary business is still genetic genealogy and building family trees. 


By comparison, 23andMe offers both an Ancestry test, and an Ancestry + Health test. The Health test analyzes portions of your DNA which may increase or decrease your risk for certain health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease or genetic disorders. 23andMe is primarily a genetic testing company, and as such does not offer the extensive resources MyHeritage offers to create and research a family tree. However, it does give you a similar ethnicity estimate and shows you where your genes come from.


The two companies also differ slightly in how they collect your DNA sample. 23andMe takes a saliva sample. This is a tube which you must fill with spit. MyHeritage uses the cheek swab method, which has the user swab the inside of a cheek with a cotton swab. Both methods are good for collecting DNA, and there is no scientific difference. However, users have found that cheek swabs are much easier than filling an entire vial with spit. 


If you want to check out the differences actual users have found between these two companies, check out this Reddit page on the differences between 23andMe and MyHeritage.


23andMe Advantages

If you get a test with 23andMe, there are several advantages compared to the MyHeritage tests. First, 23andMe has been researching and collecting health information a lot longer than MyHeritage. This likely means that both the information that they present in the health reports and the ease-of-use in understanding the reports will be slightly better. But, in general, you will find similar health risks reported by both health tests.  


As far as Ancestry goes, 23andMe also has several advantages. Most of these come from the fact that 23andMe tests autosomal DNA, X-chromosome DNA, Y-chromosome DNA, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). MyHeritage is strictly an autosomal test. Using these extra sources of DNA, 23andMe can determine your haplogroups, which can tell you about your maternal and paternal lines. 23andMe also estimates your Neanderthal DNA, and can also give you better information if you have Native American ancestry. You can see an example of this deep history report below.

In addition to these advantages, 23andMe also provides a chromosome browser to explore the different genes you carry. This browser ties into both your health information and geographic regions which your genes came from. 


MyHeritage Advantages

While 23andMe has several important advantages, MyHeritage has its own angle on the ancestry test. With the largest database size of nearly any testing company, the test results you receive from MyHeritage have a higher statistical probability of being correct. The company also allows you to do in-depth ancestry research on your family history. Using your DNA sample, you can not only connect to your relatives, but you can use your ancestry report to help build your family tree, as seen in the image below.


As far as ancestry DNA tests go, MyHeritage provides one of the best. While they have fewer regions than 23andMe, this can actually lead to a more accurate and easily-understood ancestry report. MyHeritage recognizes all of the major European regions, such as Scandinavian and Irish. Plus, the ancestry DNA kit from MyHeritage is slightly cheaper than the 23andMe ancestry test, and it has a faster turnaround time. It is typically completed in as few as 4 weeks, whereas 23andMe may take longer than a month. 


Raw DNA Data Portability

Fortunately, both companies allow you to download your raw DNA data. This is fortunate because raw data can be used on a number of third-party sites to learn even more about your raw data. The testing companies below are able to reanalyze your DNA kit to determine aspects of your genetics which your original testing company did not cover.


While both companies allow the download of raw DNA data, 23andMe has an advantage. 23andMe tests multiple sources of DNA, including X-DNA, Y-DNA, and mtDNA. These features can be further analyzed by free sites like GEDmatch to provide you with information about your deep ancestry and haplogroups.


You can also use the sites below to search for family matches in other databases, learn more about your DNA, and find additional information on genetic health risks. Many of the sites below offer their DNA services for free. Check them out!


Know "More" About Your DNA Data

1. Genomelink — FREE

2. Promethease (genetic health risk)

Ancestry Tests

3. Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) — FREE

4. MyHeritage DNA — FREE

5. LivingDNA — FREE

6. GEDmatch — FREE

Nutrition and Fitness

7. Genopalate

8. Athletigen

9. Vintage

10. DNA Fit


In addition to the above options, check out this comprehensive list of sites where you can continue your DNA journey using or uploading your raw DNA data!


Did you get 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or MyHeritage results back?
Upload your raw DNA data to access 25+ traits for FREE at Genomelink!
Tomohiro Takano
Tomohiro Takano
Co-Founder and CEO
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