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Nutrition 101

Q: What is the Difference Between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

Q: What is the Difference Between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

Senior Culinary Nutritionist Andrea Canada explains the credentials granted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently announced that registered dietitians (R.D.), now have the option to use “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist”, or R.D.N., as their credential. If you’ve ever sought out the help of a nutritionist, you may also have seen the credentials of C.D.N. or L.D.N. used for nutrition practitioners. So what is the difference between all these credentials and how is an RD or RDN different from a nutritionist? 

The use of the credential R.D. (and now R.D.N.) is authorized only by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. R.D./R.D.N.s have at least a bachelor’s degree and have completed a comprehensive program of nutrition-related coursework. In addition, R.D./R.D.N.s must complete an internship of supervised practice in various areas of nutrition as well as pass a registration examination. Lastly, to maintain certification, R.D./R.D.N.s are required to meet continuing education requirements as well.

Some states have licensure laws for nutritionists, such as C.D.N. (Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist) or L.D.N. (Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist). These credentials indicate that a person has met the state’s particular education or experience requirements for licensure. Generally, someone with an R.D. or R.D.N. would also meet the state’s criteria, so you could see the state’s credential used in conjunction with R.D. or R.D.N. However, in states with no licensure, there is little regulation over the use of the term “nutritionist” and the third-party verification of qualifications, education and experience that is part of the licensure process was never conducted.


Do you have any questions for our registered dietitians? Be sure to leave them in the comments section below!

dietitian, nutritionist, rd

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