Can a Registered Dietitian Prescribe Medication?

Registered Dietitians can help build a nutritional diet for weight loss, but can they prescribe medication to help us lose weight faster? Find out!

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In the recent decade, more people have gained awareness of the need for healthy living. Some of the areas that people are focused on include workout routines and dieting. The internet is awash with multiple platforms featuring different professionals, coaches, and specialists offering varied tips to healthy living. As you research the best approach to healthy living, it's best to tread with care as not every remedy or person is proven to be the best solution. Before taking advice, it's recommended to research the website and the individuals behind it.

This article is based on the views of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Here you will be able to answer one of the longest questions, ‘can a registered dietitian prescribe medication?' However, before that, you need to know who a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is.

What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

The term nutritionist has often been used in different sentences to portray different meanings. However, an RDN is a health professional with the expertise and knowledge to help you achieve your health and nutritional goals through proper dieting. To qualify as a registered dietitian, one needs to:

• Earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited school.
• Complete more than 1200 hours of supervised practise (dietetic internship)
• Pass a national exam organized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
• Maintain their practice through periodic certifications and educational courses.

Professionals in the wellness industry mostly use the term nutritionist. However, an individual can only be called an RDN if they complete the rigorous coursework associated with the profession.

Can a Dietitian Write Prescriptions of Prescribe Medication?

Generally speaking, an RDN cannot write prescriptions. According to the law, only registered and licensed medical doctors can own a prescription pad ad issue a prescription. This being the case, you should take caution when advised by an unlicensed individual to purchase a specific drug, even if it's an over-the-counter drug. When you need a medical prescription, it's advisable to seek and discuss the issue with your primary physician or specialist with an MD in attendance.

rd prescribes diet nutritional plan not medication

What Medication Can a Registered Dietitian Prescribe or Recommend?

An RDN's role is basically to help you with your health and wellness program through nutritional value. If anything, they are experts in the field. On the other hand, medical doctors are experienced, thorough and accomplished, with nutrition being one of the many courses they undertook during their studies.

Despite a doctor's vast knowledge of the human body, an RDN is still the go-to person for nutrition. This is because the entire curriculum of an RDN is centered on nutrition. An RDN is the best professional to help you achieve well-being through dietary solutions. In today's modern era, most people suffer from chronic diseases associated with the current lifestyle, hence the name lifestyle diseases. Some of these illnesses include hypertension, heart diseases, cancer, diabetes and obesity. These diseases are often linked to poor nutrition. To ensure a healthy body, you need to take a closer look at your nutrition and focus on dietary solutions that work for your body.

An RDN's role is to recommend a meal plan or supplement that is included in your nutrition schedule. A doctor looks at your body from a big picture, taking everything into account. In contrast, a registered dietitian focuses solely on how to improve your food selection to improve your health and wellness.

Can a Dietitian Prescribe Supplement?

Supplements are known for their nutritional value and are often recommended to boost those found naturally in food. A registered dietitian nutritionist can recommend the use of supplements, especially those that provide vitamins and minerals. Despite eating a balanced diet or opting for healthy foods, most people fail to meet their daily recommended nutrient intake. According to research, a small number of people can meet their required daily intake of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and macronutrients.

When calculating your nutrient intake, you should account for allergies and intolerance, accessibility of certain foods, preferences, convenience and poor absorption of nutrients. When all these factors are factored in, it becomes clear that most people are unable to obtain all the necessary nutrients needed by the body from food.

This is where RDN's come in. They are tasked with filling any gaps in your diet and making sure you meet all your dietary requirements. An RDN can recommend an over-the-counter option to even your nutritional deficiencies. A registered dietitian nutritionist is permitted by law to recommend specific dietary supplements, specifically minerals and vitamins.

Can a Dietitian Prescribe Diet Pills, Like Phentermine?

There is no definite answer to this since diet pills that requires a prescription cannot be prescribed by a dietitian. Prescription diet pills, such as phentermine, are beyond a dietitian's practice. However, there are several other fat burners, diet pills and supplements sold over the counter that an RDN can prescribe. However, you should tread with care when it comes to diet pills since they only offer temporary fixes without any long-term benefits to your health and wellness. For example, if your weight gain is related to your lifestyle, you are likely to gain them back after using a diet pill unless your lifestyle issues are addressed.

Normally, dietitians prescribe over-the-counter supplements to patients with health concerns such as extremely low metabolism, overweight, and obesity. You should be wary of any healthcare giver who recommends the use of diet pills without first addressing your lifestyle choices.

Take Caution

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are licensed and monitored by their accreditation board. This means they risk losing their licenses if they extend the scope of their practice. However, you are likely to encounter individuals without any restrictions or license requirements to support their practice. These people have the freedom to recommend and prescribe any over-the-counter supplement they want.

The FDA has always tried to control and monitor products circulated in the wellness industry. However, some supplement companies try to beat the system by labelling their products as food and not drugs. This means there are several unregulated products currently on the market that have not undergone sufficient research and testing.

Aside from recommending supplements, RDNs are also tasked with ensuring the safety of patients and the efficiency of the supplements recommended. They are able to do this through continued education and recertification. Relying on unlicensed professionals could expose you to unregulated products that may cause more harm than good.

Nutrition Supplements That Are Commonly Recommended

As a dietitian, I am constantly recommending the same nutritional supplements that ultimately are going to help my client's overall health and wellness. Let's take a look at commonly recommended nutritional supplements.

  1. Vitamins and minerals are often used to even out a person's nutritional deficiency. These supplements are considered safe and can be bought over the counter.
  2. Multivitamin supplements- Multivitamins provide all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to fulfill your daily recommended nutrient intake.
  3. Vitamin D- the recent pandemic forced most people to stay indoors, meaning less exposure to sunlight. With vitamin D levels in the body at an all-time low, this supplement is highly recommended.
  4. Vitamin B- this supplement helps with the production of energy and hormones. Two aspects of the body that should be well balanced.
  5. Magnesium- this nutrient is responsible for your immunity, nerve and digestive health.
  6. B- Vitamin Complex- this supplement is recommended for people using birth control and those with stress. This is because both scenarios cause the depletion of Vitamin B reserves.
  7. Omega-3s- this is probably one of the most popular supplements. It's known for improving heart health. It is also used in weight loss programs.

Can a Registered Dietitian Diagnose Eating Disorders?

Normally, eating disorders are diagnosed by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists. However, these conditions can also be identified by social workers, doctors and primary care physicians. An RDN can refer a patient to any of the professionals mentioned above if they discern behaviors of eating disorders. If a dietitian notices any eating behavior that can affect your health, then they are obligated to suggest to you to seek answers and provide you with necessary resources to get those answers.

Dietitians play an essential role in treating eating disorders. They provide valuable insights that come in handy in a patient's road to recovery.

Can Registered Dietitians Prescribe Medication for Weight Loss? Final Verdict

RDNs cannot provide any prescriptions since this goes beyond the scope of their practice. Only a medical doctor or specialist in the presence of a doctor can prescribe medication for eight loss. However, an RDN can recommend healthy choices that supplement your weight loss routine. This involves laying off certain foods, workout sessions and even an active lifestyle.

The bottom line is that an RDN cannot prescribe medication for patients. Their role is to recommend meal plans and supplements that are included in a patient’s nutrition chart.

registered dietitians cannot prescribe medication

Tips From The RD (Reaching a healthy weight)

  • Implement daily exercise and stay committed
  • Follow a strict diet plan
  • Know the foods that help you become healthier (research yourself or consult with a dietitian)
  • Hold yourself accountable

Still interested in prescription weight loss medication?

Sometimes, weight loss struggles stem for biological factors. In that case, prescription medication could be a great fit for you. Just know that as an RDN, I believe that there are no quick fixes for weight loss, that includes medication. You still have to put in the work

For those who are still interested in prescription weight loss medication, you can find excellent online service providers. However, you must qualify to get the medication. Check if you qualify for the medication and begin your weight loss journey with Found Weight Loss Medication and Coaching (read review) or Calibrate's Metabolic Reset weight loss program.

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Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD

Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, earned her masters degree in Nutrition and Foods from the University of Georgia. She's a Registered Dietitian at Morrison Healthcare and has a strong passion in helping people improve their wellness!

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