Recognizing A Certified Nutritionist

The title certified nutritionist (CN) or certified clinical nutritionist (CCN) shows that a person has had extensive education and training in nutrition science, and has also met national testing standards.

Both C.N.s, and C.C.N.s work together with clients to assess and analyze individual nutritional needs and develop personalized nutrition plans. During this process, they educate, advise, counsel, monitor, and provide their clients with support. Both conventional doctors and alternative health practitioners often refer their patients to nutritionists for dietary counseling.

The dietary information that you receive from a certified nutritionist is most likely to be reliable and based on current knowledge in the field if the nutritionist has been working in the profession for a minimum of one year and holds one of the following certifications:

Certified Nutritionist (C.N.): C.N.s must earn a Bachelor of Science or a higher degree in nutrition science from an accredited college or formal training program which is recognized by state licensing agencies.

They must meet any state licensing or certification requirements in their state, and must also comply with all statutes related to the practice of nutrition counseling. Furthermore, C.N.s must also complete a series of examinations required by the National Institute of Nutritional Education.

Certified Clinical Nutritionist (C.C.N.): To earn the C.C.N. credentials, nutritionists must have received a graduate degree in a health-care field or, if they only hold a B.A. degree, they must complete 900 hours of medical and clinical nutrition internship as well.

They will then be qualified to take case histories and to use various tests and observations to assess an individual’s nutritional needs. C.C.N.s may use the results of their assessments as a basis for referring clients to a licensed physician or other health-care professional.

Choosing A Practitioner

When you’re looking for responsible nutrition advice, look for a certified professional. Always keep in mind that the simple title “nutritionist,” although used by many qualified nutrition and dietetic professionals, is a moniker that may also be adopted by virtually anyone who needs to hang up a shingle.

Be careful of bogus qualifications, as well as of what can seem to be extreme dietary recommendations. Because irresponsible information on nutrition can be dangerous to your health, be very cautious to ask specific questions and verify the practitioner’s education, training, and professional credentials.

Although most states do require a license for professional dietitians, the situation is murkier for nutritionists. This is why it is important to be sure any nutritionist you consult has one of the credentials listed above. These will assure you of consistent standards of education, training, and professionalism.

If a nutritionist practices in a state that doesn’t regulate their qualifications, you should still try to look for one of the above certifications, which are granted for C.C.N.s by the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board (CNCN), and for C.N.s by the National Institute of Nutritional Education.

It’s also a good sign if the nutritionist is a current member of the Society of Certified Nutritionists (SCN), which is working to establish higher national standards of practice whilst promoting continuing education in the field.


John Rifkind is a contributing editor at This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.

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