Licensure Laws – Impact on RDN Supplement Consulting

Licensure Laws – Impact on RDN Supplement Consulting

October 6, 2021
Shari Steinbach
RegulatoryBusiness Skills

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor

There has been an increase in the number of retail dietitians who have added client consultations to their portfolio of services in the past few years and in some instances, the topic of supplement use and recommendations will arise. When answering questions and providing advice regarding supplements it’ important to keep in mind licensing provisions in your specific state or country.

According to Mark E. Rifkin, MS, RDN, Manager, Consumer Protection and Regulation with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there is no legal prohibition or restriction that would categorically prevent or limit an RDN from consulting on supplements (as usually defined).  However, most licensing states have provisions in their law or regulations requiring dietitians to maintain ethical standards of practice. 

For example, the Maryland regulations stipulate that “The licensee shall… (15) Promote or endorse products or procedures, or both, only in a manner that is not false or misleading; … F. Selling of nutritional products by a licensee is ethical only with the following written disclosures:

(1) That the product is sold as a convenience and the client or patient is not obligated to purchase the product; (2) That the product may be purchased from another source; and (3) That the price and amount of any profit gained for the product is made clear to the client or patient.”

He also states that the CDR Code of Ethics requires that RDNs 2(a) “Disclose any conflicts of interest, including any financial interests in products or services that are recommended.”  Additionally, the Code of Ethics stipulates that RDNs 1(a) “Practice using an evidence-based approach within areas of competence, continuously develop and enhance expertise, and recognize limitations.”

Thus, just based on the Code of Ethics, RDNs consulting on supplements should only be offering those services consistent with their competence.  And RDNs engaged in such consulting should be making proper disclosures, the content for which may be enhanced by state ethics requirements. Access to state laws and regulations can be obtained via the Academy’s interactive Licensure Map.  (Simply click on any state of interest to see a popup with links.)

For those dietitians practicing in Canada, the Dietitians of Canada or individual provincial licensing agencies will provide guidelines for recommending vitamin and mineral supplements. In general, it is within the dietetic scope of practice to complete a nutritional assessment and develop a nutrition care plan for a client which includes a recommendation for a vitamin or mineral product. However, by law, there are some limitations. This article (page 4) explains how the laws relative to vitamins and minerals apply to RDs in various practice settings.