Experts from around the world in the fields of medicine, nutrition, chemistry and biology met recently to share research findings and to move towards a consensus on the specific biological functions and relative potencies of the various forms of vitamin E in the human body.

The discussions could impact the recommended intake levels for the nutritional supplement, which has been widely celebrated for its antioxidant properties and potential to prevent cancer and cardio-vascular disease.

The round table meeting, initiated by the Oxygen Club of California in cooperation with Germany's BASF Aktiengesellschaft, came one day in advance of the vitamin E and Health Conference in Boston, MA, which was sponsored by the New York Academy of Sciences.

"Recent research is revolutionising our understanding of the numerous forms of vitamin E and expanding the recognised benefits of vitamin E intake for human health and disease prevention," the meeting's chairman Lester Packer said. "This is not the time to take a narrow view of vitamin E potency and efficacy, either as researchers or on nutrition labels."

A consensus statement of recommendations from the round table will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

"The panel identified several new and exciting directions for future research," Packer said. "Our shared vision embraces both fundamental research and investigations into the biomedical implications of vitamin E as an agent to maintain good health and protect against disease."