Calcium is important to numerous functions in the body, from bone health to muscle contractions. And while this one seems like a no-brainer, since every woman is told to get in plenty of calcium for healthy bones from an early age, I'm not actually suggesting it just for bone health. Fat loss? Sure, there may be an association between calcium intake and body fat levels, but both bone health and body fat are two benefits that men can also derive from calcium.
The distinct reason I suggest calcium for women is for benefits that a man will not get: reduced PMS symptoms. Several studies have reported an inverse relationship between calcium intake and PMS symptoms – in other words, the higher the calcium intake, the less the PMS symptoms. One study from Iranian researchers reported that women suffering from PMS that took 500mg of calcium twice a day for three months had a significant reduction in fatigue, appetite changes and depression compared to those who got a placebo. An earlier study found that women taking 300 mg of calcium four times a day for PMS had significantly reduced bloating, depression, pain, mood swings and food cravings, as compared to those taking a placebo. Several other studies on calcium supplementation have shown similar results.
Supplemental Source: Every woman should consume 1,000mg-1,200mg of calcium per day from food and supplements regardless of PMS symptoms (or lack thereof). Your best bet is to take it in at least two divided doses of no more than 400mg-600 mg each for enhanced absorption of calcium. One scoop of my blended protein powder Pro JYM contains 400mg of calcium, so three scoops of Pro JYM per day fully covers your calcium intake needs
Also, there's some evidence that shows calcium from dairy—such as the 400mg of it in Pro JYM from the milk used to make the whey, casein, and milk protein—provides better benefits than supplemental forms of calcium like calcium carbonate. If you need to supplement your diet with a calcium supplement, consider using the calcium citrate form, which may be better absorbed than other types of calcium supplements.
To further promote calcium absorption, also take each calcium dose with about 500-2,000 IU of vitamin D3. In fact, recent studies from the University of Massachusetts suggest that vitamin D intake is associated with fewer PMS symptoms, although this is may be due to higher calcium uptake. Visit my Supplement Guide for more on this powerful nutrient one-two punch.