Elucidating Nutrition Credentials

Original Image by Ted Eytan via Flickr
Original Image by Ted Eytan via Flickr

By: Nikki Nies

When looking for nutrition advice who do you turn to? Do you feel overwhelmed when trying to gain advice from a reputable nutrition expert?  Today I’ve provided an overview on the many nutrition credentials that are available for those in the nutrition field.  Do you currently see a certified nutrition specialist?  Do you know what their credentials after their last name really mean?

Certified Nutrition Specialist
  • Must have master’s degree  in nutrition or doctorate in clinical health care from a regionally credited university
  • Must have spent at least 1000 hours of supervised experience
  • Must pass 4 hour board exams on medical nutrition therapy
  • Credentialed by the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists
Certified Nutrition Consultant
  • Must have high school diploma or GED
  • Must complete 11 open book tests over 5 year span
  • Credentialed by the American Association of Nutrition Consultants, which oppose licensure and registration
Certified Health Coach
  • Certified by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
  • Offers courses that cover 100 dietary theories
  • “Guide and mentor” clients to achieve personal welness goals
Certified Clinical Nutritionist
  • Requires a bachelor’s degree
  • Requires 900 hour internship
  • Requires 56 hours of online post graduate study in clinical nutrition or a master’s degree in human nutrition
  • Approach diet on an individual basis instead of adhering to standard recommendations
  • Often work in private practices or clinics
  • Credentialed by Clinical Nutrition Certification Board
Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
  • Trained specifically to counsel diabetics on nutrition and exercise
Holistic nutritionist
  • Must have a degree from approved holistic nutrition program
  • 500 hours of professional experience in field
  • don’t necessarily follow government food pyramid guidelines or those promoted by health associations
  • do not practice medical nutrition therapy or diagnose disease
  • Certified by Holistic Nutrition Credentialing Board—a division of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals
Registered Dietitian (RD)
  • At least a bachelor’s degree
  • Trained in all aspects of nutrition, food and medical nutrition therapy
  • Have spent at least 1200 hours in a dietetic internship through an accredited program
  • Credentialed by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)
  • New optional credential for existing RD’s
  • Enhances the RD brand and more accurately reflects to consumers who RDs are and what they do
  • Differentiates credential requirements and highlights that all RDs are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians
  • Communicates broader concept of wellness, including prevention of health conditions beyond MNT

After researching various credentials, it reminded the power of the letters next to someone’s name.  Like many. I always want the best.  What might be the best for me, might not be best guidance for someone else.  I suggest looking into who you want to take nutrition advice from, but most of all do you connect with them?  Helping one with nutrition is an mind and body treatment and you have to feel comfortable with whoever is helping you with the process.







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