How to recognize a properly certified nutritionist is something you must know. The title certified nutritionist (C.N.) or certified clinical nutritionist (C.C.N.) indicates that a person has had extensive education and training in nutrition science, and has met national testing standards.
Both C.N.s, and C.C.N.s work with clients to assess and analyze individual nutritional needs and develop personalized nutrition plans. During this process, they educate, advise, counsel, monitor, and provide support. Both conventional doctors and alternative health practitioners often refer their patients to nutritionists for dietary counseling.
The dietary information 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 higher degree in nutrition science from an accredited college or formal training program that is recognized by state licensing agencies.
They must meet any state licensing or certification requirements in their state, and comply with all statutes related to the practice of nutrition counseling. 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 also complete 900 hours of medical and clinical nutrition internship.
They are then qualified to take case histories and use various tests and observations to assess an individual's nutritional needs. C.C.N.s may use the results of their assessments as the basis for referring clients to a licensed physician or other health-care professional. How To Choose a Practitioner
When you are looking for responsible nutrition advice, seek out a certified professional. Always bear in mind that the simple title "nutritionist," although used by many qualified nutrition and dietetics professionals, is a moniker that can also be adopted by virtually anyone who wants to hang up a shingle.
Be wary of bogus qualifications, as well as of what seems to be extreme dietary advice. Because irresponsible information on nutrition can be dangerous to your health, be very careful to ask specific questions and verify the practitioner's education, training, and professional credentials.
Although most states require a license for professional dietitians, the situation is murkier for nutritionists. This is why it's important to be sure any nutritionist you consult has one of the credentials listed above. These assure you of consistent standards of education, training, and professionalism.
If a nutritionist practices in a state that does not regulate their qualifications, you should still 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 is also a good sign if the nutritionist is a current member of the Society of Certified Nutritionists (SCN), which is working to establish national standards of practice while promoting continuing education in the field.