How Micronutrient Deficiencies Could Be Holding You Back from Your Optimal Health

Spark Lifestyle Services

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program

Micronutrient Deficiencies

Sometimes eating healthy, exercising and taking a multivitamin isn’t enough to support optimal health.

If you are doing those things but still feel fatigued, stressed, or otherwise out of balance, testing for micronutrient deficiencies should be considered. Micronutrient deficiency refers to having a low amount of the vitamins and minerals your body requires for daily biological processes.

Approximately 40 micronutrients are required in the human diet. Inadequate intake of micronutrients is known as an important contributor to increased rates of illness. (1,3)

In developing countries, micronutrient deficiencies are widespread, and cause very serious symptoms and even death. In the U.S., deficiencies can be less obvious and can cause silent issues that accumulate over time, such as DNA damage.

In fact, micronutrient deficiencies can damage DNA in the same way that radiation does. Micronutrient deficiencies have been associated with cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, weight gain and obesity, cognitive issues, and lowered immunity. (3)

Common Micronutrient Deficiencies

  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin D
  • selenium
  • vitamin A
  • calcium
  • folate

Am I at Risk Of Having A Micronutrient Deficiency?

Those particularly at high risk of micronutrient deficiencies are:

  • patients on a low calorie diet
  • smokers
  • patients following a vegetarian or vegan diet
  • those who eat few fruits and vegetables
  • patients who have undergone gastric or bariatric surgeries, and those recovering from illnesses.

However, anyone can be affected by micronutrient deficiencies. (2)

Micronutrient Testing

Micronutrient testing provides information on how well the body utilizes vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and antioxidants. The micronutrient test that we use at Spark Health functionally measures how nutrients are used inside the cells, specifically lymphocytes.

The lymphocytes are placed in various nutrient conditioned media, and are observed for growth. Since the life span of a lymphocyte is approximately four to six months, this micronutrient test provides an average of nutrient status over a longer period of time.

This is very different from simply testing blood levels, which are constantly changing. Furthermore, the micronutrient panel we run does not require any fasting or specific preparation. Patients do not need to stop taking their medications or supplements, and can even receive IV nutrient therapy without it affecting their results.

IV Nutrient Therapy

Based on this micronutrient test, we are able to make personalized recommendations.

We can make a customized IV bag based on what your micronutrient test says you are deficient in. We can deliver concentrated levels vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and amino acids directly into the bloodstream through an IV.

With certain nutrients, IV therapy provides up to 10 times the absorption of oral supplementation. By administering the nutrients directly into the bloodstream, our cells are able to effectively metabolize the nutrients they require for optimal function and healing.

Spark Health’s IV Nutrient Therapy Program

For more information about how micronutrient deficiencies could be holding you back from your optimal health, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team


1. Black, R.E. Micronutrient deficiency – an underlying cause of morbidity and mortality. Bull World Health Organ. 2003;81(2):79

2. Shankar, P, Boylan, M, Sriram, K. Micronutrient deficiencies after bariatric surgery. Nutrition 2010; 26: 1031–1037.

3. Ames, B.N. Micronutrient Deficiencies A Major Cause of DNA Damage. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999;889:87-106

Sun Safety and Skin Health

Spark Lifestyle Services

Summer is just around the corner which means our exposure to sun will increase. Whether it’s laying out on the beach or walking to and from our cars, we are constantly exposed to the sun.

We recommend some amount of sunlight in order to support optimal Vitamin D levels, hormones, and a healthy mood but for optimum skin health, you want to avoid too much exposure to sun.

Sun Safety Tips

  • Choose your sunscreen wisely.
  • Pay attention to the inactive ingredients.
  • Reapply every 2 hours.
  • Support your sunburn.
  • Increase your antioxidants.
  • Take care of sun-damaged skin.

What sunscreen should I use?

Aim to use a mineral based sunscreen like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide instead of a chemical sunscreen in order to reflect the harmful rays. Many of the chemical sunscreens have been shown to have hormone disrupting effects and high rates of allergic reactions. Not all chemical sunscreens are created equal and the Environmental Working Group has put together an easy chart to help you navigate sunscreen ingredients.

Here are some of our favorite mineral sunscreen brands:

  • MyChelle
  • W.S. Badger Company
  • Goddess Garden
  • All Terrain

Pay attention to the inactive ingredients.

Stay away from sunscreens that contain retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A) and keep your Vitamin A use to at night.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

Despite the number of your SPF, you still need to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours to ensure you are continuously protected from the sun.

What do I do if I get sunburned?

In the case you are overexposed to too much sunlight here are some of our favorite after-sun soothing products.

  • Goddess Garden After-Sun Gel with Aloe Spray
  • W.S. Badger After Sun Balm
  • All Terrain Aloe Gel Skin Relief
  • MyChelle Cucumber Cooler Soothing Spray

Increase your antioxidants.

Increasing your dietary and supplemental antioxidants will help protect you from the inside out.

Focus on antioxidant rich foods like berries, leafy greens, carrots, red bell peppers, salmon, chocolate, green tea and high quality coffee.

Talk to your Spark doctor about adding in specific antioxidant support during these months of higher sun exposure.

Take care of sun-damaged skin.

Sometimes we don’t notice the after-effects of our sun exposure until years later. Here are some of our favorite ways to reverse the signs of aging due to sun exposure:

  • Sunscreen.
  • Vitamin.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids.
  • Vitamin A.
  • Growth Factors.


Apply sunscreen daily to any areas of sun damage no matter what. This includes your neck, chest, and don’t forget the back of your hands!

Vitamin C.

For added sun protection in the morning use a topical Vitamin C serum for its antioxidant benefits. We love Skin Authority’s Super-C Serum and Devita’s C-Pro Plus for a 20% Vitamin C content that will help to brighten dark spots and increase collagen production.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids.

AHAs are exfoliants that are used to get rid of dead skin cells and can improve the appearance of sun damaged skin. We love Skin Authority’s Resurfacing Accelerator and Suki Skincare’s Resurfacing Enzyme Peel.

Vitamin A.

Whether you can tolerate a retinol or need a gentler version like retinyl palmitate, vitamin A is one of the best anti-aging nutrients around. Remember to only use in the evening! Our favorites are Skin Authority’s Vitamin A Cell Renewal and AllVia’s Retinol Cream.

Growth Factors.

With sun damage comes fine lines and wrinkles and one the best ways to nourish sun damaged skin is with Skin Authority’s Skin Growth Factor Technology (SGF-4). Using the Wrinkle Reversing Serum and Dramatic Eye Lift in the morning will tighten and brighten those areas that have had a little too much sun.

Is My Sunscreen Safe?

If you are curious about the safety of your sunscreen you have at home, use the Environmental Working Group Cosmetics Database to search for the safety of your products.

Learn More About Spark Health

For more information about Sun Safety and Skin Health, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team

Acne and IV Nutrient Therapy

two people receiving IV therapy treatments

Acne is one of those conditions that can have a multitude of causes. At Spark Health, it is always our goal to be able to identify the root cause of your acne so that we can prevent it from happening in the first place.

The triggers can be multifactorial which is where a functional lab evaluation with a Spark doctor can help to identify your personal acne triggers. Whether the cause is coming from dysregulated hormones or a poor functioning digestive system, nutrient deficiencies are almost always involved.

Since it can be a challenge to achieve proper nutrient absorption from our food and/or supplements, IV nutrient therapy is a great way to ensure you are getting 100% absorption of those key nutrients.

IV Nutrient Therapy for Acne

Our Acne Support IV bag provides comprehensive support for our patients suffering with acne breakouts.

Here is a breakdown of my favorite acne fighting nutrients that are highlighted in our Acne Support IV bag:

  • Vitamin B3: Acne prevention, lowers sebum production, down regulates inflammation
  • Vitamin B5 : Acne prevention, balances oil production
  • Vitamin B6: Acne prevention associated with hormonal fluctuations
  • Carnitine: Works together with vitamin B5 to balance oil production, supports the immune system, increases cellular repair
  • Vitamin C: Antioxidant, supports collagen formation, boosts immune system, increases wound healing
  • Selenium: Antioxidant, reduces inflammation, thyroid supportive
  • Glutathione: Antioxidant, liver supportive, decreases inflammation, collagen supportive

Learn More About IV Nutrient Therapy and Acne

For more information about Acne and IV Nutrients, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team

The Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet for the Brain

Detox Basics

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program

The Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is low in carbs, high in fat and moderate in protein. The body produces ketones for fuel instead of burning sugars and carbohydrates for fuel.

Ketones are a fuel source that the liver produces when we break down fat. Evolutionarily speaking, we would produce ketones in a fasted state, when food was scarce.

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

There are plenty of health benefits of a ketogenic diet, but the benefits for the brain are particularly striking.

The ketogenic diet was originally designed to help decrease the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. The diet has been studied to be especially effective in children and adult patients who have refractory seizures (seizures that do not respond well to anti-seizure medications). (1,2,7)

There is evidence that ketone bodies not only act as molecules for fuel, but also act as cell signaling molecules. These signaling molecules have strong anti-inflammatory actions and have been shown to reduce oxidative stress in the brain. (4)

Ketones have been shown to help reduce the damage that free radicals create in brain cells. Ketone bodies also support the vagal nerve, therefore increasing parasympathetic tone.

When our bodies are under parasympathetic tone, we are in a more rested and relaxed state. Having better parasympathetic tone can lead to stress reduction, improved sleep, and improved mood.

A ketogenic diet (or any diet that mimics a fasting state) increases levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF is responsible for increasing connections between neurons in the brain. Low BDNF levels have been associated with neurodegenerative disorders.

In animal models, a ketogenic diet has been shown to decrease amyloid beta plaques, which have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease. (3) Furthermore, the administration of ketones have been shown to improve memory in humans with Alzheimer’s disease. (5)

Additionally, in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the brain has trouble utilizing glucose for fuel. Therefore, switching its energy source to ketones results in improved cognition.

There is also some evidence that a Ketogenic diet may have therapeutic value in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Researchers usually study Parkinson’s disease with an animal model that utilizes the neurotoxin MPTP.

They use this neurotoxin to create injury to the brain that creates symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. Beta-hydroxybutyrate was shown in mouse models to decrease the toxicity that MPTP created. (8) Effects of a ketogenic diet are promising in some case studies and human studies with smaller sample sizes. (6)

It is evident that a ketogenic diet can also benefit patients that experience stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI). The destruction of brain cells that results from strokes and brain injury involves cell death from glutamate. It is thought that Ketone bodies can actually prevent cellular death in the brain in cases of high glutamate. (9)

Overall, it is clear in the research that a ketogenic diet is not simply a means of weight loss, but a powerful therapeutic tool that can be utilized to help treat many different brain-based disorders.

Learn More About Ketogenic Diets

For more information about the benefits of a ketogenic diet for the brain, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark Health is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team


1. Paoli et al. Beyond weight loss: A review of the therapeutic uses of very-low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 2013;67:789-796.

2. Kossoff et al. Ketogenic diets: An update for child neurologists. J. Child Neurol. 2009;24:979-988.

3. Van der Auwera et al. A ketogenic diet reduces amyloid beta 40 and 42 in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2005 2:28

4. Gasior et al. Neuroprotective and disease-modifying effects of the Ketogenic diet. Behav Pharmacol. 2006: 17(5-6):431-439

5. Reger, et al. Effects of B-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiology of Aging 25 (2004) 311-314

6. T. B. VanItallie et al. Treatment of Parkinson disease with diet-induced hyperketonemia: A feasibility study. Neurology Feb 2005, 64 (4) 728-730

7. Freeman JM et al. The efficacy of the ketogenic diet – 1998: a prospective evaluation of intervention in 150 children. Pediatrics. 1998;102:1358-1363.

8. Tieu K et al. Beta hydroxybutyrate rescues mitochondrial respiration and mitigates features of Parkinson disease. J Clin Invest. 2003;112:892-901

9. Stafstrom CE, Rho JM. The ketogenic diet as a treatment paradigm for diverse neurological disorders. Front. Pharmacol., 09 April 2012

Micro Needling for Acne Scars

Spark Lifestyle Services

One of the best indications that you might be interested in the Spark Health Level 1 micro needling treatment with hyaluronic acid is acne scars.

Micro needling is a non-invasive technique that uses tiny needles to stimulate collagen production and is safe for all skin types. Micro needling has proven to be a safe and effective treatment for those suffering from acne scars looking for a non-invasive option.

What is Micro Needling?

Using the Eclipse MicroPen™, tiny needles are used to create micro channels in the skin. These channels allow for hyaluronic acid to penetrate the skin deeper than traditional applications.

When topical hyaluronic acid is combined with micro needling it accelerates the collagen deposition to be able to fill in acne scars and improve overall texture of the skin.

Acne scarring not only can affect a person’s physical appearance but can take a toll emotionally as well. Patients often feel frustrated that they are unable to leave the house without makeup despite their active acne being under control.

When working with acne scarring, we typically recommend 3 micro needling sessions spaced about 4 to 6 weeks apart for best results. The initial treatment is stimulating the immune response in the body and over 4 to 6 weeks is when the collagen is being produced to even out the skin’s tone and texture.

The procedure itself starts with cleansing and applying numbing cream to the face to make it a comfortable and pain free experience for patients.

Once your face is numb and cleansed, the hyaluronic based serum is applied to the face and micro needling begins. The actual micro needling only takes about 30 minutes for the face.

Patients will experience redness right after the treatment and look like they had a mild sunburn over the next 24 to 48 hours. There can be some mild peeling of the skin a few days after micro needling which is a normal part of the healing process. Keep your skin properly hydrated to minimize peeling.

Micro Needling for Acne Scars

The advantages of micro-needling over other more invasive treatments is that it is very well tolerated, involves minimal downtime and has little to no side effects.

A key benefit when it comes to treating acne scarring is that the micro-needling results are permanent once the scar has filled in.

Micro needling is often performed on the face but can be done safely anywhere on the body including neck, chest, and back as well.

What Skincare to Use After Micro Needling

An important component of any micro needling treatment is having the proper products for right after the treatment and during the weeks that the collagen is being produced.

We encourage patients to bring in all their current skincare and makeup products so that the proper after care regimen can be personalized for you and your skin type.

Some of our favorite key ingredients to use during the healing process days after the treatment include a hyaluronic acid based serum for cellular hydration and a moisturizer with growth factors to speed the healing process and collagen promotion.

Once the skin has fully healed, your more active ingredients can be reintroduced like alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids or salicylic acids, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Micro Needling at Spark Health

For more information about Micro Needling and Acne Scars, fill out our Contact Us form, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team

What is the PRP Micro Needling Facial?

Spark Lifestyle Services

So what is the PRP Micro Needling Facial?

Well, the PRP Micro Needling Facial is a leading-edge, age management facial using Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and an electronic micro needling pen.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Micro Needling uses the healing power of platelets and growth factors from your own blood to stimulate collagen growth, repair and regenerate damaged skin, and reverses signs of aging. This type of medical facial is commonly referred to as the Vampire Facial which was made popular by Kim Kardashian.

Let’s talk more about what PRP is:

(PRP) Platelet Rich Plasma is the nutrient-dense portion of your blood full of growth factors. These growth factors trigger the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, resulting in healthier and younger looking skin.

Let’s talk more about what Micro Needling is:

Micro Needling is a collagen induction therapy that improves your skin’s overall appearance by treating fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, and discoloration. This procedure uses tiny needles to create microchannels in the skin that allow for PRP’s growth factors and hyaluronic acid to penetrate the skin deeper than traditional applications for superior results.

How is this medical facial performed?

We will draw a small amount of blood from your arm and place this in the centrifuge to isolate the PRP. After numbing cream is applied to the treatment area, the face is prepped for the procedure. Once the needling begins, the PRP and hyaluronic acid are applied topically, much like a serum, to allow maximum absorption into the dermis through microchannels created by the microneedles.

How long is the recovery time?

Immediately after the treatment, you will notice a slight redness of the skin, similar to a mild sunburn. The total healing time depends on the patient and the condition of the skin. On average, skin is slightly red for 2-3 days.

How long will it take till I see results?

You will notice an immediate “glow” to your skin. The first changes patients typically see are a decrease in pore size and improvement in overall skin tone and texture. Your full results develop over the course of a few weeks as the collagen matrix begins to lie down. Results continue to improve over months as collagen production continues.

How many treatments will I need?

Most patients will need 2-3 treatments, spaced 4-6 weeks apart. For extensive or advanced signs of aging, 6-8 sessions may be needed. Maintenance PRP Micro Needling Facials are recommended every 6-12 months, depending on the individual and your doctor’s recommendation.

Advantages of the “PRP Micro Needling Facial”:

There are a lot of benefits to having the PRP Micro Needling Facial done at Spark Health. Some of the main benefits that our patients commonly rave about are as follows…

  • Enhances natural collagen production
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improves skin tone and texture
  • Decreases pore size
  • Fills in acne scars
  • Evens out skin discoloration
  • There is little to no downtime
  • Ideal for the patient who does not want any synthetic fillers

At Spark, we have advanced the PRP Micro Needling Facial (aka Vampire Facial) and taken it to the next level by developing 3 different levels of this medical facial geared towards our patient’s unique needs. Below is a synopsis of the PRP Micro Needling Facial levels and some of the add-on’s that are available.

Level 1:
Micro Needling Facial with Hyaluronic Acid

  • Purpose: To treat acne scarring and discoloration
  • Results: Seen over 4-8 weeks after treatment
  • Discomfort level: only a 2 out of 10
  • Recovery: 2-4 days
  • Procedure length: 1-2 hours
  • Number of recommended sessions: Typically, 3 treatments, 5-6 weeks apart

Level 2:
Micro Needling facial with Hyaluronic Acid and Platelet Rich Plasma.

  • Purpose: Increase collagen production to treat fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone/texture, age spots, acne scarring and discoloration
  • Results: Seen over 4-8 weeks after treatment
  • Discomfort level: only a 2 out of 10
  • Recovery: 2-4 days
  • Procedure length: 1-2 hours
  • Number of recommended sessions: Typically, 3 treatments, 5-6 weeks apart

Level 3:
Micro Needling Facial with Hyaluronic Acid, Platelet Rich Plasma, Wrinkle Reversing Serum/Moisturizing Lift Cream with SGF-4 Technology and Custom Beauty Bag IV

  • Combined with a Specially Formulated IV to Further Enhance Results:
  • Beauty Bag – “Collagen Builder”; includes a Glutathione Push
  • Beauty Bag – “Acne Support”; includes a Glutathione Push
  • Purpose: Increase collagen production to treat fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone/texture, age spots, acne scarring and discoloration
  • Results: Seen over 4-8 weeks after treatment
  • Discomfort level: only a 2 out of 10
  • Recovery: 2-4 days
  • Procedure length: 1-2 hours
  • Number of recommended sessions: Typically, 3 treatments, 5-6 weeks apart

Additional Areas:



  • *Wrinkle Reversing Serum with SGF-4 Technology:
  • *Moisturizing Lift Cream with SGF-4 Technology:
  • *Beauty Bag – “Collagen Builder”; includes a Glutathione Push
  • *Beauty Bag – “Acne Support”; includes a Glutathione Push
  • *Sheet Mask

Enhance your skin naturally with Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Micro Needling Facial by Spark Health

As the electronic micropen is applied to the skin, hundreds of superficial micro-channels are created every second. This process stimulates your skin’s natural ability to regenerate collagen and elastin.

The repair process begins almost immediately. New collagen fibers produce softer, firmer skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, discoloration, and acne scars, and improve skin texture.

To speak to one of the Spark doctors about the PRP Micro Needling Facial please reach out to us at (858) 228-4188 or you can send us an email at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team

IV Vitamin C is an Adjunctive Cancer Treatment

Natural Medicine San Diego

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program

When you think of vitamin C, you probably think of its anti-oxidant, immune-supportive qualities. What you may not realize is that vitamin C has different qualities when delivered in low doses versus high doses! The only way to get high concentrations of Vitamin C into the blood is through an IV, since the digestive system prevents absorption of high amounts of Vitamin C.

In the 1970s, Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winner, led the way in the development of high dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) as an adjunctive cancer treatment. His research indicated that patients with advanced cancer survived longer with high dose vitamin C treatments than those who did not receive high dose vitamin C. (1)

More well-controlled clinical trials in humans are necessary to definitively say that high dose vitamin C is curative for patients with certain cancers, however, there is plenty of evidence to suggest its value as a safe and effective adjunctive (complimentary) cancer treatment.

High dose IV vitamin C leads to the production of hydrogen peroxide in the areas surrounding cancer cells, causing damage to those cells. (2) It has been shown that cancer cells are particularly prone to injury by the hydrogen peroxide, while normal cells are able to safely change the hydrogen peroxide into water. (3) Normal cells have an enzyme called catalase that is responsible for converting hydrogen peroxide into water. Tumor cells do not have enough of this enzyme, making them susceptible to damage by hydrogen peroxide. (1)

Most of the research available on this mechanism has been done in cell models, and more evidence from controlled human studies are needed. Human studies have, however, provided overwhelming evidence of high dose vitamin C increasing quality of life in patients with cancer. (6,7) There is evidence that it can help with fatigue, constipation, depression, and insomnia. (1)

High dose vitamin C does not interfere with the anti-tumor effects of chemotherapeutic drugs and does not increase their toxicity. (1) There is some evidence in the literature that high dose ascorbic acid therapy may add to the efficacy of other cancer therapies. (3,4,5) It has also been demonstrated in the research that high dose vitamin C therapy can improve survival in cancer patients and also contribute to a reduction in tumor mass. (1)

Overall, the research concludes that high dose vitamin C is a safe and effective adjunctive cancer treatment. Here at Spark Health, we offer high dose vitamin C IV therapy for established patients and patients who have a recommendation for this therapy from their oncologist.

At Spark Health, we are lucky to have Dr. Aliza Cicerone, one of the only cancer oncologists in California who is also a Naturopathic Doctor. Our team at Spark has developed an integrative approach to cancer treatment. To read more, please go to

If you are interested in high dose vitamin C therapy for adjunctive cancer care, give us at a call at 858-228-4188 or email us at

Spark is conveniently located so we can serve patients in San Diego, and all of North County such as Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Escondido, San Marcos, and Poway.

Thank you,
The Spark Team


1. Fritz, et al. Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer: A Systematic Review. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2014

2. Chen, et al. Ascorbate in pharmacologic concentrations selectively generates ascorbate radical and hydrogen peroxide in extracellular fluid in vivo. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2007; 104(21):8749-54.

3. Verrax J and Calderon PB. The Controversial place of vitamin C in cancer treatment biochemical pharmacology. 76 (2008) 1644-1652.

4. Levine, et al Vitamin C: A Concentration- Function Approach Yields Pharmacology and Therapeutic Discoveries. Advanced Nutrition: 2: 78-88, 2011.

5. Ma Y, et al. High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemrsensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Feb 5;6 (222).

6. Vollbracht et al. Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany. In Vivo 2011 Nov-Dec; 25(6):983-90

7. Yeom et al. Changes of terminal cancer patients’ health-related quality of life after high dose vitamin C administration. J Korean Med Sci 2007 Feb;22(1):7-11

8. Anderson, Paul S. Intravenous Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Information for Physicians and Patients. (2017)


Alternative Medicine San Diego

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program

Are some of your family members or friends sick, or starting to show signs of a weakened immune system? Are you feeling more run-down than usual? Are co-workers fighting off colds or the flu? Do you work in an environment where there is a lot of foot traffic? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, NOW is the time to get an immune boosting IV from Spark Health!

The star nutrients in our “Immune Boost” IV are Vitamin C and Zinc. Zinc and Vitamin C are best utilized by the body at the beginning of an illness. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and great at ramping up our body’s immune system. Zinc is a mineral that is especially helpful in shortening the duration of a cold or flu, as soon as you recognize you might be getting sick.

If you’re already sick, never fear! This IV has vitamins and minerals to help you feel better as soon as possible.

The “Immune Boost” IV includes B complex, which provides important vitamins such as B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and B3 (niacin). These are all required for immune health. B complex also includes vitamin B5 (dexpanthenol) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Vitamin B5 is an important component of the coenzyme that helps our body process nutrients (fats, carbs and protein), giving our bodies the resources to remain strong throughout cold and flu season. 1,3 Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is an important coenzyme in the creation of antibodies and cytokines, which are crucial to immune function. 1 It has been well-researched that vitamin B6 deficiency affects the production of lymphocytes, antibodies and T cells (essential components of our immune system) and supplementation restores their function. 4

The “Immune Boost” IV also contains Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin). Deficiency of this vitamin in humans has been shown in research to decrease lymphocytes and suppress natural killer (NK) cell activity. NK cells are a type of white blood cell that attack cells infected by viruses. Supplementation of Vitamin B12 reverses these effects, providing us with the defenders necessary to keep us healthy. 1,2

We top the IV off with a hefty dose of glutathione (another powerful antioxidant and antiviral compound) to further support immune health.

We look forward to seeing you here at Spark Health for a immune boosting treatment! You can walk on in any time for an IV or if you are pressed for time just give us a call and we will get your IV bag ready for you when you come in. You can call us at (858)228-4188 or email us at

~Dr. Larkin & the Spark Team


1. Maggini, et al. Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. British Journal of Nutrition (2007), 98

2.Tamura J, Kubota K, Murakami H, Sawamura M, Matsushima T, Tamura T, Saitoh T, Kurabayashi H & Naruse T (1999) Immunomodulation by vitamin B12: augmentation of CD8þT lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cell activity in vitamin B12-deficient patients by methyl-B12 treatment. Clin Exp Immunol;16,28 – 32.

3. Institute of Medicine (1998) Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Washington, D.C.: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press: Chapter 7: VitaminB6, pp.150 – 195.

4. Leklem JE (2001) Vitamin B6. In Handbook of Vitamins, 3rd ed. Chapter10, pp.339 – 396 [RBRucker, JW Suttie, DB McCormick and LJ Machlin, editors]. New York: Marcel Dekker Inc.

5. Douglas RM, Hemilä H, D’Souza R, Chalker EB, Treacy B (2004) Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004: CD000980.pub2.

Have the Nerve to Improve Your Brain Health!

Spark Lifestyle Services

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program

The brain is often ignored in regular health maintenance. We can easily get caught up in clearing our skin, healing our gastrointestinal system, or getting our allergies under control, but how often do we think about protecting the amazing, three-pound supercomputer we carry inside our heads?

At Spark Health, we want our patients to experience less fatigue, improved memory, better energy levels, and enhanced mental focus. We want to help our patients prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Thus, we created the “Brain Power” IV- full of nutrients to support the brain, spinal cord, and nerves all around the body. Let’s talk about some of the “star” nutrients in this incredible IV.


B1 (thiamine)- has a nitrogen component that it donates for the production of neurotransmitters. In animal models and neuronal cell culture, thiamin deficiency has been associated with increased beta amyloid production, which is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. 1 Thiamine levels were found to be lower in human patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than in patients without these conditions. 2

B complex– contains Vitamin B5 (Dexpanthenol), which helps our bodies create the myelin sheath, the fatty insulation material covering nerves that helps signals travel efficiently. Deficiencies of dexpanthenol can manifest as numbness, tingling, burning, or fatigue. B complex also contains B6 (Pyridoxine), which is essential in producing norepinephrine and serotonin, important neurotransmitters in regulating mood and sleep.

5-MTHF (L-methylfolate) is the biologically active form of B9 (folate). The folic acid we ingest from food must be converted into Dihydrofolate (DHF), then to Tetrahydrofolate (THF), and then finally into L-methylfolate (5-MTHF) to be used in the body. It is estimated that more than half of the U.S. population has a genetic enzyme defect making it difficult to convert folic acid into its active form. 5-MTHF is a nutrient that aids in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Deficiency in those neurotransmitters can contribute to anxiety, depression, dementia, and autoimmunity.

Taurine is known to be incredibly protective for the brain. It aids in the prevention of atherosclerosis and is protective against ischemic strokes. 3

L-carnitine– is known to support our nerves, brain, and heart. It has been shown to act as a building block for certain neurotransmitters needed for optimal cognitive functioning.4 Research also suggests that acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation may also improve mental function and reduce deterioration in patients with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.5

In the “Brain Power” IV, we deliver a therapeutic dose of all of the above nutrients as well as basic vitamins and minerals in order to help our patients feel the best. We top the IV off with a generous dose of glutathione (a powerful antioxidant) to further support the brain and body.6


1. Zhang, et al. Thiamine deficiency increases beta secretase activity and accumulation of beta amyloid peptides. Neurobiology of Aging (2009)

2. Gibson, G. E., Hirsch, J. A., Fonzetti, P., Jordon, B. D., Cirio, R. T., & Elder, J. (2016). Vitamin B1 (thiamine) and dementia. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1367(1), 21–30.
3. Menzie, J., Prentice, H., & Wu, J.-Y. (2013). Neuroprotective Mechanisms of Taurine against Ischemic Stroke. Brain Sciences, 3(2), 877–907.

4. White HL, Scates PW. Acetyl-L-carnitine as a precursor of acetylcholine. Neurochem Res 1990;15;597-601

5. Cristofano, A., Sapere, N., La Marca, G., Angiolillo, A., Vitale, M., Corbi, G., … Di Costanzo, A. (2016). Serum Levels of Acyl-Carnitines along the Continuum from Normal to Alzheimer’s Dementia. PLoS ONE, 11(5), e0155694.

6. Pocernich, C. B., & Butterfield, D. A. (2012). Elevation of Glutathione as a Therapeutic Strategy in Alzheimer Disease. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1822(5), 625–630

Spotlight On: GLYCINE

Spotlight On: GLYCINE

By Dr. Samantha Larkin, ND- Associate Doctor and Manager of the Spark Health IV Program
Glycine is a building block for many proteins in the body and has a whole host of amazing health benefits. We feature glycine in many of our vitamin shots and IVs. Find your health goal below, and see how glycine can help you achieve it!


Did you know that collagen contains approximately 35% glycine? Glycine is one of the star nutrients for skin health and collagen and elastin deposition. 1 We love Glycine in our “Sparkle and Glow” IV bag.


Both our “Cellular Detox” IV bag and “Detox Booster” shot contain glycine. Glycine has its own ability to increase the antioxidant capacity of the body, but it also is used to create glutathione, which is the body’s master detoxifier and a powerful antioxidant. 2


Although glycine is made by the body, there is evidence that most people do not make enough of it to support the body’s metabolic processes long-term. Studies have shown that a deficiency of glycine can impair the immune system. 4


Glycine acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and spinal cord, and is known to help improve sleep quality. It helps to modulate stress levels and supports a healthy mood. 5 We feature therapeutic levels of glycine in the “Destress and Unwind” IV bag, “Destress fast bag”, and our “Deep Sleep” IV bag. We also feature glycine in our “Be Happy” shot and our “Zen Master” shot.


Glycine is one of best the amino acids for the prevention of muscle breakdown. Glycine helps to generate creatine, which is crucial for nerve and muscle metabolism. 2 Glycine also helps to prevent tissue injury, promotes wound healing, and promotes the synthesis of proteins.


Glycine is the major amino acid used in the conjugation of bile acids. This makes it particularly useful for supporting digestion of fats, absorption of long chain fatty acids and lipid-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin D. 3
Can you believe all of the benefits of glycine? That’s why glycine is our spotlight IV nutrient this month. Come to Spark Health today to try an intramuscular (IM) shot or intravenous (IV) therapy with glycine! For more information please call us at (858) 228-4188 or you can email us at


1. Wang, et al. Glycine metabolism in animals and humans: implications for nutrition and health. Amino Acids (2013) 45:463–477

2. Hall JC (1998) Glycine. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr 22:393–398

3. Hafkenscheid JC, Hectors MP (1975) An enzymatic method for the determination of the glycine/taurine ratio of conjugated bile acid in bile. Clin Chim Acta 65:67–74

4. Zhong Z, Wheeler MD, Li X et al (2003) Glycine: a novel anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 6:229–240
5. Yamadera, et al. (2007) Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. Sleep and Biological Rhythms; 5: 126–131